Brandywine ‘stalls’ out Bridgman 36-24

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, February 27, 2019

NILES — The Brandywine boys basketball team hosted a familiar foe in the opening round of the Division 3 boys district basketball tournament Monday night.

Facing Bridgman for the third time this season, the Bobcats (18-2) kept the Bees (10-12) in check offensively with their suffocating defense. That trend continued at the Bobcat Den as Brandywine defeated Bridgman 36-24.

The Bobcats advance to tonight’s semifinals where they will take on Eau Claire. Tipoff is set for approximately 7:30 p.m.

The Bees were the only team to hold Brandywine under 50 points this season, but each time came up short. Wednesday night was no different.

“Our game plan was to create havoc on defense,” said Brandywine coach Nathan Knapp. “I was hoping to run more of a four-corner stall, but we do a good job with ball pressure and denying.” 

The game started out to be a runaway as the Bobcats used a 12-0 run in the first four minutes to take control of the game. Brandywine kept a steady pace through the first half, going into halftime with a 27-11 lead. 

The second half was a lot of stalling and Bridgman allowed it. With fouls not a factor for most of the game, including the third quarter, Brandywine essentially did not run an offensive play and just dribbled the ball out the last four minutes of the period. 

“In the third quarter, I wanted to run a play to give our kids a break, and they (Bridgman) chose to back down,” Knapp said. “We’re not a team that likes to stall. Our kids get at it and they like to go-go-go, so the stalling was like pulling teeth out for them.”

In the fourth quarter, Brandywine continued the stall tactic, in which neither team scored a single point between the 4:14 mark of the third all the way until the 3:01 mark in the fourth quarter when Bridgman finally broke the ice.

Bridgman was able to cut the Bobcat lead to 29-23 with 2:19 left in regulation and that is when Brandywine was able to get to the charity strike and take the game away.

Moving forward, Knapp is confident that his team will continue to do what has made them successful all season long.

“We’re just going to keep attacking and working hard,” Knapp said. “Some of my younger guys will get their first tournament experience on Wednesday night and our starters know they have a job to do in order to get those kids some playing time. We’re focused and ready for Eau Claire (1-15).”

Brandywine junior Jordan Abrams led all scorers with 13 points. Bridgman was led by sophomore Luke Blesy with 12 points and junior Henry Branch with nine. 

In the other district quarterfinal, Watervliet (2-18) defeated Bangor (3-17) 64-47 to advance to the district semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday where it will face Hartford (17-3) out of the Southwest 10 Conference for the third time this season.

Hartford has defeated Watervliet 59-44 and 65-55 during the regular season.

Watervliet was led by freshman Andrew Chisek with 24 points while his sophomore teammate Dylan Lawson added 11 points. Bangor was led by senior Thomas Bowen with 17 points in the losing effort.