Senior Night for one, victory for all: Bobcats’ Bates celebrated in 69-20 win over Mustangs

Published 4:50 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

NILES CHARTER TOWNSHIP — It was “Cortney Bates Night” at Brandywine High School Thursday night.

Bates, the lone senior on the Brandywine girls basketball team, was the star of the show as the Bobcats community celebrated her throughout the team’s 69-20 Senior Night win over River Valley. 

The Bobcats led 48-15 at halftime. Miley Young led the way with 17 points and Ellie Knapp scored 12. Bates tallied nine points on three 3-pointers in her Senior Night start.

“It was kinda crazy to me,” she said. “I remember in November thinking ‘my senior night is in February; it’s so far away’. To think that it was yesterday is just crazy. There were so many emotions I had yesterday. It was just awesome.”

Bates, flanked by her mother Nicole and uncle, received a warm ovation at center court prior to the start of warm-ups. 

“I was nervous all day and everyone is here for me,” Bates said. I remember my freshman year, I had so many players in my grade and to think it’s just me now. It was awesome just to see the support from my teammates and the community.”

As per tradition, Bates and her mother led the team’s “slide” drill and later performed a special handshake when her name was called for the starting five. 

“It was kinda funny,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for so long to do it and the fact that it happened – it was just a fun moment with her.”

When Bates was a freshman on the varsity team, she was sure she would be playing with members of her own class in the coming years, but it was not long before Bates was the last player remaining in her graduating class. She credits head coach Josh Hood and the rest of the coaching staff for keeping her engaged and loving the game of basketball.

“(The coaches) do so much here. There’s something about it that made me want to stay. My freshman year, being on varsity was nerve-racking. It was such an older group – there were five seniors. I learned so much from them and I truly love this sport. I was like ‘I think I want to continue this on’ and the last three years just went by fast for me.”

The Bobcats finished the regular season with a 20-2 record. Bates believes her team has what it takes to make a deep postseason run.

“I think it’s just being confident with each other and being able to trust each other,” she said. “I think that’s what we struggled with a lot was being able to trust each other and be confident with our shot. With Ellie (Knapp) back, we’ve stepped up as a team. We are working together more. I have seen so much improvement from each game. We have so much talent.”

In addition to her basketball practices and high school schoolwork, Bates is dual-enrolled at Lake Michigan College and is finishing up work on her Associates Degree. While currently undecided, Bates plans to enroll in a university to pursue a degree in physical therapy. Hood praised Bates for her dedication to both her team and her studies.

“If you could define what a student-athlete should look like and what we would want our younger Brandywine girls to model, it’s Cortney,” he said. “She’s a top honors student, she’s a hard worker and a great role model for our youth. If you could bottle up what we would want the kids in our youth program to do as they get older and to act like, it would be Cortney. She’s a very hard worker, she’s honest and an all around fantastic student-athlete.

“She is what we want all lady ‘Cats to be like.”