Brandywine rallies to edge Cassopolis 60-54

Brandywine’s Austin Knapp (23) knocks the ball away from Cassopolis’ Bryce Saxton during the Class C district Monday night. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Brandywine’s Austin Knapp (23) knocks the ball away from Cassopolis’ Bryce Saxton during the Class C district Monday night. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

A fast-paced opening round game in the Class C district tournament ended with a furious finish at Cassopolis Monday night.

With a pair of starters fouled out, Brandywine dug deep and scored the game’s final eight points to pull out a 60-54 win over Cassopolis.

The Bobcats led by five (51-46) when Austin Knapp fouled out wit 3:20 remaining in the contest.

The lead was just 51-50 when Vinny Peel fouled out with 2:42 to play and Bryce Saxton hit both ends of the one-and-one.

Saxton’s basket with 1:20 to play gave the Rangers their final lead at 54-52.

Brady Duval scored to tie the game at 1:08 remaining, while freshman Jaden Croom, who was moved up from the JV, scored the go-ahead basket for the Bobcats with 46.5 left on the clock.

Brandywine hit all four of its free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the win.

“No matter who you grab off that bench, they are going to go out there and fight,” Brandywine coach Nathan Knapp said.

The Rangers (15-6) had their way with the Bobcats for much of the first half.

Cassopolis led 10-7 after one and used a spurt to close the second quarter to go up 30-23 at halftime.

Brandywine senior Austin Knapp came out in the third quarter and put the Bobcats on his back, scoring 13 of Brandywine’s 20 points and fueled an 11-0 run that allowed the Bobcats to reclaim the lead and put themselves in a position to advance.

“He kind of sacrificed his game all season,” Knapp said about his son Austin. “He has been in the program for four years and he has been on the good side and the bad side. He told me I don’t need to score 25 points a game. If we are winning, then I am happy. He is a team player and we was our leader in the second half that is for sure.”

For Austin Knapp, the second half was a product of reality.

“It was either we were winning the game or I was done playing high school basketball,” he said. “I wasn’t going out with a loss. The last couple of days in practice I have been attacking the basket. So I attacked the bucket tonight.”

Austin Knapp finished with a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds. Duval scored eight points off the bench, while Peel finished with seven.

Cassopolis, which attacked the basket in the first half, settled for jump shots in the final two quarters, something that Ranger coach Ricky Evans knew his squad could not do.

“At halftime I told them that going to the basket had gotten us the lead,” Cass coach Ricky Evans said. “But you’re talking about kids. Sometimes they want to do it the way they want to do it. And they found out that doesn’t always work.”

Saxton led the Rangers with 22 points. Emerson added 14, while the Bobcats’ limited Deion Gatson to just 10 points.

Brandywine advances to the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. at Eau Claire against the host Beavers. Bridgman will face arch rival New Buffalo in the first semifinal at 6 p.m.



At Cassopolis


Vinny Peel 7, Austin Knapp 29, Marquise Davis 2, Cole Searles 7, Hunter Slaughter 5, Brady Duval 8, Dalton Knapp 0, Zach Grishaber 0, Jaden Croom 2, Scott Miller 0. TOTALS: 22 11-16 60.


Matthew Pittman 4, Micha Welch 2, Kiambu Gary 0, Deion Gatson 10, Bryce Saxton 22, Alex Emerson 14, Shane Los 0, Xander Smith 0, Marquise Curtis 2. TOTALS: 22 10-19 54.


Brandywine   7          23       43       60

Cassopolis      10       30       41       54

3-point baskets: Brandywine 5 (Knapp 2, Duval 1, Searles 1, Slaughter 1), Cassopolis 0. Total fouls (fouled out): Brandywine 16 (Knapp, Peel), Cassopolis 18 (Emerson). Field goal shooting: Brandywine 22-of- 62 (35 percent), Cassopolis 22-of-61 (36 percent). Rebounding: Brandywine 45 (Knapp 12), Cassopolis 41 (Gatson 9). Turnovers: Brandywine 16, Cassopolis 11. Varsity records: Brandywine 16-5, Cassopolis 15-6.


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