Bombs away: Bucks use long-range shooting to top Bobcats for title

Published 8:43 pm Sunday, March 5, 2023

COLOMA — It was bombs away for No. 1-ranked Buchanan in its 67-57 Division 3 District championship game victory over No. 9-ranked Brandywine at Coloma High School Saturday afternoon.

The Bucks, who won their third consecutive district title, hit five out of their first six 3-pointers in the opening half as it opened up a 16-point lead and then held off multiple challenges from their arch rival, the Bobcats, before pulling away late for the 10-point victory.

Buchanan (21-1) jumped out to a 6-0 lead on Brandywine, only to have the Bobcats come storming back to take a 9-8 lead midway through the quarter.

The Bucks, despite having a height advantage with 6-foot-4 Miss Basketball candidate Faith Carson, and her 6-foot-2 sister Alyssa, turned to it outside shooting to take control of the contest.

Buchanan hit four straight 3-pointers, including two by Faith Carson and two by Hannah Tompkins, which propelled the Bucks to a 16-point lead.

Buchanan led 22-14 after one quarter, but could never quite shake the Bobcats, who were led by all-state point guard Ellie Knapp, who hit six of Brandywine’s 11 3-pointers and finished with 30 points.

The Bucks outscored the Bobcats 17-15 in the second quarter and took a 39-29 advantage to the locker room at the intermission.

Brandywine came out red-hot in the third quarter behind its outside shooting from Knapp and Kadence Brumitt. The Bobcats whittled the Bucks’ lead down to 48-44 heading into the final quarter.

Brandywine continued to apply the pressure on Buchanan at the start of the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 50-47 on a 3-pointer by Brumitt with six minutes remaining.

“I think we got a little stagnant with our ball movement in the third quarter,” said Buchanan Coach Gabe Miller. “Ellie played a tremendous game. We through our best two defenders at her, but when she gets hot coming off those screens, there isn’t much you can do. We had to make a few adjustments. We survived. These guys have been here for two or three years. We made a schedule the last two years that would challenge us, and last year we didn’t have Faith, and we found a way to do it. I think our experience right there paid off.”

That would be as close as the Bobcats would get as the Bucks ended the game on a 17-10 run to seal the victory.

Buchanan heads to Centreville for the Division 3 Regional semifinals Tuesday when it will face a 20-3 Bronson team, which the Bucks defeated 42-29 on Jan. 23.

Faith Carson finished the game with 16 points, 12 pounds, four blocks and four assists. In the two district games, Carson, an Ohio State University commit, scored 40 points, grabbed 35 rebounds and blocked nine shots.

Faith Carson said that winning another district championship, especially as a senior, and with all that happened to her last season, made this one special.

“It is really important, especially this game,” she said. “I did get to play a little bit in the district finals last year, but it is not like this year. I am 100 percent back and I am 100 percent ready. We here hyped last night and we here hyped all day.”

The Bucks and Bobcats had to wait an extra day to play the championship after a snowstorm that hit southwest Michigan late Friday afternoon postponed the game until Saturday afternoon.

The Bucks also got 16 points from Alyssa Carson and 12 points from LaBria Austin.

Besides Knapp, the Bobcats got 14 points from Adelyn Drotoz and 13 points from Brumitt.