Bobcats headed back to the Breslin Center
PORTAGE — A change in philosophy paid big dividends for the Brandywine girls basketball team Tuesday night.
The Bobcats tried to be relaxed in practice before last year’s Class C quarterfinal game, but wound out losing to Laingsburg.
This year, Brandywine coach Josh Hood and his staff decided that they would “get after it” in practice.
The result was a 40-24 victory over Grand Rapids Covenant Christian in the Class C state quarterfinals at Portage Northern High School.
“That’s the best defense in a game that a team of ours has ever played,” Hood said. “It started with the weekend. The girls were really excited to beat a great Gobles team, an unbeaten Gobles team (in the regional final). We talked about enjoying that moment. But when we got to work over the weekend, it was all about business.
“Last year, we relaxed when we got ready for the quarterfinals because we thought that two years before, when we lost in the quarters, we were tense. So we played music in practice and relaxed. This year we’ve got a veteran team and they know what it’s like to get to the quarters. So we decided to get after it.”
Hood said the practices on Saturday and Sunday were the best that he had seen since taking over the program, in 2010, the same year the Bobcats made their first time to the Breslin Center at Michigan State University under his direction.
“The kids were ready to work. They did conditioning. We worked on boxing out and we were physical. The result is they came out here tonight ready to do the same things. I’m super proud of them. Everything they did on the offensive end, we made it hard for them.”
Brandywine (24-2) will face No. 3-ranked Traverse City St. Francis (25-1) in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The second semifinal at approximately 2:50 p.m. will pit No. 1-ranked Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (23-2) against No. 7-ranked Ithaca (24-2). The Class C championship game is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.
It did not take long to figure out that the Trojans (18-6) were going to struggle to score against Brandywine’s defense.
Covenant Christian was 4-of-14 in the first half with 15 turnovers and trailed the Bobcats 23-9.
The closest the Trojans would get to Brandywine all night was 15-8 following a 6-0 run by Covenant Christian in the second quarter.
The Bobcats used six consecutive points off of turnovers to make it 21-9 just before halftime. The margin was double-digits throughout the second half.
Brandywine finished the night forcing 22 turnovers. Covenant Christian shot 28 percent from the field (9-of-32) and despite being bigger, only held a 26-23 advantage in rebounding.
The Bobcats were 14-of-33 (42 percent), including five 3-point baskets.
Jaleesa Garner led Brandywine with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Makenna and Michaela Hartline combined for 16 points.
Not a single Trojan reached double figures against the Brandywine pressure defense. Rebecca Boeve led Covenant Christian with six points.
BRANDYWINE 40, COVENANT CHRISTIAN 24
At Portage Northern
COVENANT CHRISTIAN 24
Charity Koole 5, Caitryn Hassevoort 4, Leanna Daling 0, Madeline Meulenberg 0, Kara Minderehoud 4, Brooke Mulder 3, Rebecca Boeve 6, Caitlyn DeVries 2, Kara Zwak 0. TOTALS: 9 6-12 24.
Makenna Hartline 6, Michaela Hartline 10, Alyssa Bolen 6, Jaleesa Garner 12, Emily Erwin 3, Makena Bowen 0, Libby Moody 3, Mia Stella 0, Rachael Szilagyi 0, Cassie Luczkowski 0, Chelsie Luczkowski 0, Alexis Garcia 0. TOTALS: 14 7-10 40.
Covenant Christian 4 9 17 24
Brandywine 15 23 31 40
3-point baskets: Covenant Christian 0, Brandywine 5 (Bolen 2, Erwin 1, Moody 1, Michaela Hartline 1). Total fouls (fouled out): Covenant Christian 16, Brandywine 13 (Bowen). Field goal shooting: Covenant Christian 9-of-32 (28 percent), Brandywine 14-of- 33 (42 percent). Rebounding: Covenant Christian 26 (Hassevoort 5), Brandywine 23 (Garner 6). Turnovers: Covenant Christian 22, Brandywine 17. Varsity records: Covenant Christian 18-6, Brandywine 24-2.