Late defensive effort lifts Brandywine to comeback win over Buchanan

Published 10:15 am Saturday, January 15, 2022

BUCHANAN — Down by six points with about four minutes remaining on the road against a conference rival, Brandywine boys basketball coach Nathan Knapp called timeout.

Whatever he said must have worked, as the Bobcats clamped down the defense in the final minutes and rallied to a late 48-47 BCS Athletic Conference Red Division victory over Buchanan Friday night.

“They weren’t kind words,” Knapp said, about what he told his team during the timeout. “It was an uphill battle all night, and we just told the kids, ‘now, it’s do or die.’ They showed they have a lot of fight in them.”

Still down four points with less than a minute remaining, the Bobcats (4-3, 1-1 BCS Red) stole the ball on a Buchanan inbounds play, leading to a 3-pointer by senior Carson Knapp. The Bucks (1-4, 0-2 BCS Red) committed another turnover on the following inbounds play, and Nathaniel Orr put the Bobcats in the lead for good.

Knapp, Michael Palmer Kirtdoll and Jaremiah Palmer each had 10 points for the Bobcats, which also forced 22 Buchanan turnovers.

“Every kid on that team tonight, even the kids that didn’t play … they all just stuck together,” Knapp said. “Buchanan did a heck of a job keeping us off balance. We just couldn’t get anything going.”

Neither team led by more than eight points during the game, and the Bucks had a chance to win in the final seconds, but could not get a shot off as an errant pass was intercepted.

“Most of the game when [Brandywine] made something good happen, we maintained our composure,” said Buchanan coach Reid McBeth. “ Unfortunately, in the last minute, we kind of lost our composure.”

Buchanan’s Ryan Young led all scorers with 28 points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to put the Bucks up by six to end a third-quarter rally. But the Bobcats outscored the Bucks 21-13 in the final frame.

“We have a fine line for our margin of error,” McBeth said, whose team returned one starter from last year’s squad. “Sometimes it’s just one box out, one turnover, one loose ball that makes the difference. For us, we have to get those.”

It was the Bucks’ second late loss to a division opponent, which McBeth said the team can learn from going forward.

“We had Berrien Springs on the ropes, Brandywine on the ropes,” McBeth said. “When you have these close losses, it’s tough. You’ve just got to keep coming back with your chin up and figure out a way to get over the hump. I know our guys will do it.”

Brandywine hosts South Haven next Friday, while Buchanan visits Niles on Tuesday.