The quest continues for the Bobcats

Published 9:46 am Friday, March 15, 2019

BRONSON — The Division 3 regional final was full of everything you could think of worth the price of admission and more.

Fourth-ranked Brandywine had a tall task at hand, literally, knowing that ninth-ranked Centreville had Joanna Larson (6-foot-1) and Samantha Schlabach (6-3) awaiting them in the paint.

Larson and Schlabach got theirs for the Bulldogs as they combined for 48 of the 58 Centreville points.

The Bobcats as a unit keep Centreville off balance as they never trailed the Bulldogs on their way to a 64-58 victory in the regional championship game Wednesday night.

It is Brandywine’s first regional title since 2016 and seventh in the last 10 years.

“What a phenomenal job these girls did tonight,” said an excited Brandywine coach Josh Hood following the game. “I am so proud of them. They earned this one to come into this game against an undefeated team. We didn’t let that hinder us. Our defense was status quo and our shots were on when they had to be. We had a great game from Alexis (Rhodes) to come off the bench when our inside starters (Kennedy Byrd and Nicole Sachman) got in foul trouble early. She set much of the pace inside during the first half to keep Centreville off balance.”

Brandywine started the game with a 7-0 lead, but the inside attack of Schlabach and Larson, along with foul trouble for the Bobcats, kept the Bulldogs within reach.

Brandywine had a 19-15 advantage after one quarter.

In the second quarter, Zakiyyah Abdullah caught fire shooting the basketball, scoring 18 of her 25 points in the first half to keep Brandywine ahead, 38-30, at the halftime.

“What can I say about Zakiyyah? She played lights out all night,” Hood said. “She set the tempo and didn’t slow down. We needed an All-State performance from her and she delivered showing why she is one of the best point guards in the state.”

In the second half, Brandywine led as many as 14 points before Schlabach and Larson propelled the Bulldogs late in the third quarter as Centreville cut the Bobcats’ lead to 50-43.

In the fourth quarter, the Bobcats’ defense took advantage of several miscues and played keep away from Centreville. Brandywine had a 57-44 lead with under three minutes left.

Then the madness began.

Brandywine uncharacteristically turned the ball over three times in a minute, which Centreville converted to two three-point plays. Nicole Sachman, who was guarding Larson all night, fouled out with 1:57 left. Centreville cut the lead to 57-54.

Larson fouled out with less than a minute left in the contest after committing all five fouls in the fourth quarter.

That took the momentum out of Centreville’s sails and Brandywine was able to hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

“Even though the scoreboard didn’t reflect a win, I’m incredibly proud of this squad,” said Centreville coach Jill Peterson. “Down by 13 with three minutes to go, we closed the gap to a single possession over the next two minutes. In that moment, we could have crumbled, but we rose and fought back.”

Zakiyyah Abdullah tied Schlabach for a game-high of 25 points. Larson finished with 23 points of her own, while Malikkah Abdullah and Alexis Rhodes scored 12 and 11 points respectively off the bench.

“We are going to enjoy this tonight and rightfully we should,” Hood said. “We have a week to prepare for the No. 1-ranked team in the state (Pewamo Westphalia), and we’ll be ready.”

Brandywine plays top-ranked Pewamo Westphalia (24-1) Tuesday night at Middleville Thornapple Kellogg High School after the Pirates defeated Grandville Calvin Christian 56-37 in their regional final.

Game is set to tip-off at 7 p.m.


At Bronson



Zakiyyah Abdullah 25, Madison Bailey 5, Nicole Sachman 4, Megan Schmidt 7, Kennedy Byrd 0, Alexis Rhodes 11, Bethany Duva 0l, Maliklyyah Abdullah 12. TOTALS: 22 11-17 64


Abby Nighswonger 0, Kenleigh West-Wing 4, Olivia Deeds 6, Samara Schlabach 25, Joanna Larsen 23, Whitney Morris 0, Grace Edwards 0, Isabel Stauffer 0, Amy Carpenter 0. TOTALS: 19 18-23 58

Brandywine     19     38     50     64

Centreville       15     30     43     58

3-point goals: Brandywine 9 (Z. Abdullah 3, Schmidt 2, M. Abdullah 2, Bailey, Rhodes), Centreville 2 (West-Wing 2). Team fouls (fouled out): Brandywine 19 (Sachman, Rhodes, Byrd), Centreville 16 (Larsen). Varsity records: Brandywine 23-2, Centreville 23-1