Bobcats come up short against No. 1 Pirates

Published 9:29 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

MIDDLEVILLE — The bread and butter of the Brandywine girls basketball team is pressure defense.

The Bobcats play it so well that they are able to win nearly 20 games each season and make long tournament runs.

But in the Division 3 state quarterfinals at Thornapple-Kellogg High School Tuesday, Brandywine had the tables turned on it by the No. 1-ranked Pewamo-Westphalia Pirates.

The Pirates (25-1) forced the Bobcats into 10 first-half turnovers and held Brandywine under 40 points, the 15th consecutive team they had done that to in their 49-19 victory.

“There’s a reason why they are the consensus No. 1 team,” said Brandywine coach Josh Hood. “They are big, strong, fast and athletic. They have a Division 1 kid and a Division 2 kid. They remind me of Duke. We normally dictate play, but tonight they did. We could not simulate their speed preparing for them. Their ability to pressure the ball was a big factor.”

How dominating was the Pewamo-Westphalia performance?

The Pirates made more baskets (19) than Brandywine attempted shots (18).

The Bobcats were just 6-of-18 from the field and 0-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line, which is where Brandywine usually does most of its damage.

After taking a 3-2 lead in the opening minutes, it was all downhill for the Bobcats, who found themselves trailing 12-7 after one quarter.

Things did not go any better for Brandywine in the second quarter as the Pirates slowly began to pull away behind the play of junior Hannah Spitzley, who has signed a letter of intent with Western Michgian University, and junior Ellie Droste, who has signed with Grand Valley State University.

The two combined for 21 of Pewamo-Westphalia’s 43 points.

In the second half, Brandywine attempted to solve the defense of Pewamo-Westphalia, but could not find a way to get off any outside shots. The Bobcats also struggled to get the ball inside to attempt to score.

Brandywine had just one basket in the second half until the closing seconds.

The Pirates led 39-17 heading into the fourth quarter. Pewamo-Westphalia held Brandywine to just one basket in the final eight minutes.

The Pirates ended the night shooting 17-of-36 from the field, including 7-of-18 from 3-point range.

Brandywine senior Nicole Sachman, one of only two on the Bobcats’ roster, led the team with seven points. Zakiyyah Abdullah and Alexis Rhodes both finished with six points.

Brandywine finishes another outstanding season with a record of 23-2. The Bobcats won both a district and regional championship. The regional title was the seventh in the last decade for Brandywine.

“I’m just really proud of this group of girls,” Hood said. “What a great year. To go 23-3 is pretty darned good and to represent southwest Michigan in the Elite Eight. “My two seniors (Madison Bailey and Sachman) just did a phenomenal job for us. We will be back. This will be a driving force for us in the offseason. We have to get stronger and faster. These girls are great representatives of Brandywine. I’m fortunate to have such great young ladies and awesome assistant coaches.”