Brandywine’s Abdullah scores 31 in debut

Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Brandywine varsity girls basketball team opened its season with an impressive 68-36 win over visiting Dowagiac in what is the start of a rebuilding year for both teams.

The Bobcats are coming off a very successful 2015-2016 season, making it to the state semifinals last spring.

After losing seven seniors, five of whom were starters, coach Josh Hood admitted he lost a lot of experience and knowledge and is now looking at the current seniors — all returning varsity players — to help lead the way. Along with the returning players, he is added six new faces to the team, one being a starting freshman, who scored 31 of Brandywine’s 68 points.

Zakiyyah Abdullah is a new face in the Brandywine community and made her debut on the court one to remember.

Nailing five 3-point shots, Hood recognized her as a key addition to the roster.

“For a freshman, what a great first game she had,” Hood said. She had a phenomenal night, she shot the ball well and I couldn’t be more proud of her — and all of our younger players — for the night we had.”

The Bobcats opened the game with an 18-7 lead after the first quarter. Returning players and seniors Mia Stella, Makena Bowen and Chelsie Luczkowski all contributed points for the Bobcat team, as did freshman Kennedy Byrd. After the first-game jitters wore off in the second period, Brandywine’s shooting came to life with five of the night’s 11 successful 3-point shots made.

Dowagiac’s nine additional points allowed Brandywine to enter the second half with a 41-16 advantage.

The Chieftains, coming off a 1-19 season, had plenty of scoring opportunities early on, but struggled to make the shots, something first-year coach Brent Nate said is something he plans to work on diligently with his team this year.

“We’re trying to change the culture of the program. There’s going to be building blocks and a lot of steps to take, one of them being nailing those shots. Our energy and our effort is there, but we just couldn’t secure the points we needed,” he said.

Nate, who also serves as the athletic director at Dowagiac, feels his team is on the right track, and with seven sophomores on the team, he knows the program has very high hopes in the coming short years.

But getting there is going to take some time, though.

“This was a lot of our girls’ first varsity game, and opening it playing a team who came off a Final Four season can be intimidating, but it’s also a good way to star,” Nate said. “It was a great learning experience, and today was just step one.”

Dowagiac’s shooting game did not start falling into place until the fourth quarter, which was the only time they outscored the Bobcats in a period, 14-9. Brandywine held a 59-22 lead after the third before securing their first non-conference victory of the season.

For the Bobcats, Abdullah lead the team in scoring with 31 points. Stella chimed in with nine points, all from 3-point range and Bowen ended the night with eight.

Senior Taylor Hulett led the way for Dowagiac with 18 points. Sophomore Amiyah Smith added 10 points, while Taylor Pye, Tania Parker-Wilson and Tamia Parker-Wilson all contributed buckets for the Chieftains.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, and have a very big battle on our hands this Friday when we visit Comstock,” Hood said. “It’s going to be a learning year for us all — myself included. But I think this was the start we needed to enter the season with great momentum and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish, especially our younger girls.”

Brandywine tips off against the Colts in Kalamazoo at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Dowagiac will travel to Paw Paw to open its Wolverine Conference schedule Friday night.


In junior varsity action, Brandywine secured its first win of the season with a 58-18 victory over Dowagiac.
Alexa Martinez scored 26 points to lead the Bobcats. Megan Schmidt added 14 to the score, and Abigail Lusagala posted eight points.

For Dowagiac, Hayden First had 10 points, and Haley Pullins and Greta Whitaker each had four points.


At Brandywine


Zakiyyah Adbullah 31, Mia Stella 9, Makena Bowen 8, Nicole Sachman 6, Kennedy Byrd 6, Chelsie Luczkowski 5, Melanie Martinez 3.

Taylor Hulett 18, Amiyah Smith 10, Taylor Pye 3, Tamia Parker-Wilson 3, Tania Parker-Wilson 2.

Brandywine   18       23       18       9          68

Dowagiac        7          9          6          14       36
3-point baskets: Brandywine 11 (Abdullah 5, Stella 3, Bowen 1, Luczkowski 1, Martinez 1. Dowagiac 2 (Hulett 1, Wilson 1). Total fouls: Brandywine 17, Dowagiac 15. Fouled out: None. Varsity records: Brandywine 1-0, Dowagiac 0-1.