Brandywine sweeps Saugatuck in home opener

NILES — It was a doubleheader home opener for Brandywine Tuesday night in varsity basketball action, where the girls and boys teams sent Saugatuck sailing back to the Lake Michigan shoreline with a pair of losses.

The Lady Cats opened the evening with a 73-35 victory over the Indians, while the boys just snuck past Saugatuck, 64-57.

In game one, sisters Zakiyyah and Malikiyyah Abdullah combined for 11 of Brandywine’s 14 3-pointers, leading the Lady Cats in scoring with 29 and 17 points respectively.

Alexia and Melanie Martinez and Madison Bailey also added threes for the Bobcats in a game that started rather shakily for the team.

Saugatuck handled the pressure of Brandywine’s full court press without hesitation in the first half, something coach Josh Hood said his team will have to strengthen up on going forward. The Lady Cats are known for an in-your-face full court defense and over the course of the first 16 minutes of play, the Indians were successful in beating it time and time again.

Luckily for Brandywine, its shooting game was spot on and was the key in keeping the Lady Cats unreachable the majority of the game. Hood said this is one of the best shooting teams he has had at Brandywine and the number of girls who are able to hit the outside shots — specifically 3-pointers — will be another one of the Bobcats’ biggest threats this year.

“The youth is out there. We have a young team and we are going to make a lot of mistakes, especially this early in the season still,” Hood said. “Our press wasn’t where it needs to be, but we finally got the game going the direction we wanted it to go. Any time you can put up over 70 points on the board, you’re doing a pretty good job.”

The inside game was led by Brandywine junior Nicole Sachman, who pumped in 14 points in the paint.

It was the first game of the season for the Brandywine boys’ team, and the jitters were obvious in game two of the night. Although the Bobcats put up the win, coach Nate Knapp said it was a very sloppy victory, and his young team will have to learn a lot of discipline very quickly.

“The guys were all over the place tonight. I’m sure some nerves set in, but our team is young and we will have to work on controlling the ball and not being in such a hurry to throw a shot up,” Knapp said.

The Bobcats almost gave the game away to the Indians in the fourth. Bryce McLane gave Brandywine a 12-point lead after hitting a 3-pointer, which was immediately followed by a defensive steal on a press play. McLane’s layup for two points gave Brandywine a 58-46 lead with just 1:50 to play. But Saugatuck took advantage of Bobcat errors and closed that gap to six-points in just 40 seconds of play – 58-52.

Brandywine was able to sneak in another six points of its own in the final minute of play to hold onto the lead and earn the win.

Leading scorer for the Bobcats was Jordan Abrams with 17 and Jaden Croom added 10.

Both teams will head to Buchanan Friday night for a conference rival showdown. The Lady Cats, now 2-1, will tip off first at 6 p.m. and the boys, now 1-0, will follow at 7:30 p.m.

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