Bobcats win eighth district title in nine years
Published 8:32 am Monday, March 6, 2017
WATERVLIET — Defense wins championships, and when you lose all five starters and seven seniors from the previous year that accounted for nearly all of your offense, playing good defense comes in handy.
It came in handy Friday night as Brandywine held Cassopolis without a basket in the second half of its 40-18 Class C district championship victory at Watervliet.
Brandywine is no stranger to winning district championships, having won eight of the last nine titles, but this one was a bit more special considering that many felt now was the time to knock the Bobcats from the top of the mountain.
“This was the year that Southwest Michigan had circled as the year that Brandywine came back to the pack,” Hood said. “But my confidence never wavered.”
The upstart Rangers (11-11) kept things interesting in the first half, but without being able to mount much of an offensive attack, the Bobcats kept pulling away.
It was 15-8 in favor of Brandywine after one quarter and 22-14 at halftime.
But with only a pair of free throws in both the third and fourth quarter, there was no way Cassopolis was going to catch the Bobcats.
The main focus of the Brandywine defense was stopping standout Cassopolis junior Santaja Gibson. The Bobcats held her to just 12 points in the contest and made sure she was the only Rangers to get into double figures.
“We had films of four Cassopolis games,” Hood said. “And it was like a highlight reel of Gibson. Their offense is built around her athleticism.
“She’s unbelievable, especially when she gets going in transition with her right hand all the way to the rim. She got a few tonight, but for the most part we shut her down. And it takes five girls to shut down a player like that. Our girls were good at finding her, pinching her and not letting her get to the rim.”
Brandywine’s defense forced 31 turnovers, which lead to 23 points.
The Bobcats also held a 53-28 advantage in shots taken and outrebounded the much taller Cassopolis squad 38-34.
Zakiyyah Abdullah led all scores with 19 points, while the Bobcats also got 12 points from Nicole Sachman.
Brandywine (19-4) will now travel to Homer to face BCS Athletic Conference foe Bronson (16-7) in the Class C regional semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Bobcats and Vikings did not play each other during the regular season.
Bronson defeated Cassopolis 57-15 and 48-28.
BRANDYWINE 40, CASSOPOLIS 18
Madison Brooks 1, Ky’ana Buck 2, Sophia Fiala 0, Santaja Gibson 12, Angel Gary 2, Kiersten Hartsell 1, Kayla Rowan 0, Telayah Coats 0, Eryn Forrest 0. TOTALS: 6 6-14 18.
Nicole Sachman 12, Kennedy Byrd 3, Makena Bowen 3, Zakiyyah Abdullah 19, Mia Stella 3, Megan Schmidt 0, Cassie Luczkowski 0, Chelsie Luczkowski 0, Madison Bailey 0. TOTALS: 13 6-16 40.
Cassopolis 8 14 16 18
Brandywine 15 22 33 40
3-point baskets: Cassopolis 0, Brandywine 8 (Abdullah 5, Byrd 1, Stella 1, Bowen 1). Total fouls (fouled out): Cassopolis 16 (none), Brandywine 14 (none). Varsity records: Brandywine 19-4, Cassopolis 11-11.