Buchanan rally comes up short in district finals

Published 3:57 pm Saturday, March 12, 2022

BUCHANAN — A fourth-quarter rally came up a bit short as host Buchanan dropped a 57-51 decision to Watervliet in the Division 3 Boys District Basketball Tournament championship game Friday night.

After scoring the first basket of the contest, Buchanan found itself on the wrong end of a 15-0 run that allowed the Panthers to take control of the game. Watervliet would lead 15-5 after the opening quarter.

Using a combination of outside shooting and aggressive defense, the Panthers (18-3) maintained a comfortable cushion in both the second and third quarters before the Bucks made a run in the final eight minutes.

Watervliet led 28-19 at halftime and 45-34 heading into the final quarter.

That is when things got interesting.

Led by Ryan Young, southwest Michigan’s leading scorer for the 2021-22 season, kept Buchanan within striking distance during the middle two quarters as he scored 10 points in the second quarter and 13 in the third quarter on his way to a game-high 30 points.

Buchanan (13-9) chipped away at the Watervliet lead in the final quarter, getting down to as little as 50-45 with 1:24 to play. The Panthers responded each time the Bucks got the lead down into single digits with a big shot, a rebound, or a hustle play that did not allow Buchanan to get that next shot to really turn up the heat.

Watervliet, which was 12-of-20 from the free throw line on the night, was 11-of-13 in the final 77 seconds.

Besides Young, Buchanan also got eight points from Thomas VanOverberghe off the bench and eight points from Macoy West.

Kaiden Kierhalter led the Panthers with 20 points, which included four 3-pointers. Andrew Chisek finished with 16 points.

Watervliet now heads to the Centreville Regional where it will face Bronson in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Monday night. Schoolcraft and Lawton will play the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m.