Column: It was something to behold

Published 2:43 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

For those who do not understand the allure of high school sports, you needed to be at Brandywine High School Thursday night when two of the top teams in the state squared off in a battle for first place in the BCS Athletic Conference Red Division.

Previously undefeated and No. 4-ranked Buchanan took on arch rival Brandywine, ranked No. 9 in the state. These arch rivals put on quite a display before a large and boisterous crowd at the Bobcat Den.

The Buchanan and Brandywine rivalry is unique because the two schools are in the same conference and are neighboring districts. Most of the girls spend their offseason playing with or against those same players that took the floor Thursday night.

There was no lack of emotion in the stands or on the court as the Bucks and Bobcats slugged it out for the right to move into first place in division standings. The energy in the building was electric and rivaled that of a significant postseason game such as a district or regional championship. With the Bucks returning to Division 3 this season, that means a potential third meeting between the two schools when the state tournament begins. I know I am looking forward to it.

Veteran Brandywine Coach Josh Hood was right when he said that the game matched the game’s intensity with Grandville Calvin Christian when the Bobcats hosted the Division 3 Regionals.

“I’ve been doing this for 13 years at Brandywine,” Hood said. “I think you have to go back to 2015 and the regional championship game against Grandville Calvin Christian to have an environment like this. This is what high school basketball is all about. Buchanan and Brandywine is one of the top rivalries in the state. When Brandywine and Buchanan are high-level teams, like they both are, it makes everything in southwestern Michigan better. With them moving down to Division 3 this year, we have to do this three times. I don’t know if my heart can take that.”

What might have gotten overlooked during last night’s game is that the Bobcats and Bucks are young. Buchanan lists just four seniors on its roster, while Brandywine has just a pair of seniors. That means there will be plenty more games like last night over the next couple of seasons.

Like the two coaches, I would like to take the time to thank the fans that came out Thursday night to make the game special. I love high school sports more than anything else in the world. In my estimation, games like last night should be normal, not the exception to the rule. There is nothing like being a part of something special like those in attendance were last night.

Hopefully, we can keep COVID at bay and continue to have these types of games. I cannot think of a better way to spend an evening than watching two talented high school teams take the court, play with great intensity and emotion, and then shake hands, walk off the court and get ready for their next challenge.

 

Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com.