Brandywine’s undefeated start ends in 44-42 loss to Benton Harbor

Published 10:27 am Sunday, January 9, 2022

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NILES — Fans bold enough to brave the wintry conditions to attend the girls basketball matchup between Brandywine and Benton Harbor Friday night were in for a treat.

The visiting Lady Tigers edged the Bobcats 44-42, snapping Brandywine’s undefeated start to the season in a winter thriller.

The second half was the difference for the Lady Tigers (4-3). Trailing 26-19 at halftime after first-half foul trouble, Benton Harbor ended the third quarter on a 15-0 run to take a 36-29 lead into the fourth.

After trailing by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter, Brandywine sophomore Ellie Knapp keyed a 10-0 Bobcats run to pull within two in the closing seconds.

Brandywine was able to force a Benton Harbor miss on defense before a potential game-winning 3-pointer from Knapp misfired.

Benton Harbor’ 6-foot-5 junior Desrae Kyles led all scorers with 21 points, while Knapp and Miley Young scored 17 and 12, respectively for Brandywine.

Energy was the theme of the game for both coaches, as Benton Harbor coach Kenny Jackson praised his team’s ability to stay engaged, while Brandywine coach Josh Hood lamented his team’s inability to match their opponent’s energy.

“The first few games, we haven’t matched the energy of our opponent,” Jackson said. “I just kept telling them that we don’t lose these games because of ball screens. We lose the games where we aren’t able to match their energy. So every time I call a time out, I tell them I need five more minutes here, six minutes here. If you give it to me right here, I guarantee you we win this game, and they did.”

“We’ve got to figure out way to get motivated and that started at the top,” Hood said. “Our staple has been our press defense for 13 years and we didn’t get in our press tonight. Sooner or later, you got to look in the mirror as a head coach and say, well, what’s going on? There’s a problem at the top and that starts with me. So I need to figure out this weekend what’s going on with our team and why they’re not playing to their potential.”

Much has been made of Brandywine’s eight-girl freshman class on the varsity team, with many either starting or playing significant minutes off the bench.”

Hood dismissed the notion that the team’s youth factored into the loss.

“That is not an excuse,” Hood said. “These are varsity basketball players and we need to play like that and act like that. There’s a pride factor that comes with wearing this uniform, and that’s not happening right now. We’re gonna make sure we work tirelessly to correct that.”

The Bobcats (7-1) look to correct the ship ahead of it’s highly anticipated rivalry matchup with 7-0 Buchanan at 7 p.m. Thursday at Brandywine.

“We’ve got a system that’s worked really well, and we’re not completely bought in,” Hood said. “The staple of a good team is hard work and discipline, and we had neither of those tonight. We’ll get it fixed. We’ll keep plugging away and working hard.”