Brandywine boys best Watervliet 42-36 for first district title since 2019

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 11, 2023

WATERVLIET — A sea of maroon shirts were on hand Friday night as Brandywine and Watervliet played in a Division 3 boys basketball district championship game unlike any other.

In a game with more ups and downs than any roller coaster ride, Brandywine edged host Watervliet 42-36 Friday night to hoist its first district championship since 2019.

Leading 18-7 at halftime, the Bobcats were outscored 17-0 in the first 10 minutes of the second half and looked out of sorts trailing 24-18 heading into the fourth. A Michael Palmer basket with 5:56 remaining scored the Bobcats’ first points of the half and put the team back on track.

The two teams spent the next few minutes trading baskets before junior Jaremiah Palmer was fouled while shooting and went to the line. Trailing 30-29, Jaremiah Palmer made both free throws to give the Bobcats a lead they would not relinquish.

“These kids, man, they’re resilient and tough,” said Brandywine Coach Nate Knapp. “Even in the third quarter when we didn’t score — they kind of got timid and locked up — but just the way they kept continuing to battle. That’s them, man; that’s their character. You can punch them, you can give them blows, and they’re going to take it. When it’s time, they’ll wake up.”

Jaremiah Palmer scored 11 of his 17 in the fourth and junior Byron Linley seven of his nine, with the duo coming up with timely plays on both sides of the ball. Altogether, the Bobcats outscored the Panthers 24-12 in the fourth quarter.

“Jeremiah stepped up big when we needed him,” Knapp said.

“We were talking about how we got to spread them out a little bit because they run that pack line that’s tough inside,” Knapp said. “We got to start knocking down shots; don’t go away from the things that we do.”

Knapp cited Brandywine’s 55-53 Feb. 28 road win over Edwardsburg as a game that prepared them for the type of fight they faced Friday night.

“If we didn’t go through what we did at Edwardsburg, we might not have pulled this out. Everything you do during the year gives you steps on learning, and it showed tonight. The kids just kept battling on, and they’re competitors. They’re fighters.”

Jaremiah Palmer led all scorers with 17 points. Linley scored nine points and senior Michael Palmer seven. Freshman Nylen Goins and junior Jamier Palmer tallied five and four points apiece.

Wyatt Epple and Tyson Williams scored eight points apiece to lead Watervliet, while Brady Bornas and Kaiden Bierhalter each had seven and Jacob Schaefer added six.

Brandywine (22-2) advances to face Hackett Catholic (18-6) at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Coloma High School. The Bobcats are aiming to claim their first-ever boys basketball regional title.

“We’re gonna see how far they’re gonna take us,” Knapp said. “This school hasn’t had a [boys basketball] regional title in its history. We can’t look past Hackett, but if this team wants it, they can get it but they’re going to have to work for it. They’re pretty tough, but we’ll see how far they take us on this ride.”



At Watervliet


Jamier Palmer 4, Nylen Goins 5, Robert Whiting 0, Jaremiah Palmer 17, Michael Palmer 7, Brock Dye 0, Byron Linley 9. TOTALS: 14 12-18 42


Wyatt Epple 8, Tyson Williams 8, Brady Bornas 7, Jacob Schaefer 6, Kaiden Bierhalter 7. TOTALS: 14 5-10 36


Brandywine               7          18       18       42

Watervliet                  4          7          24       36

3-point baskets: Brandywine 2 (Goins 1, Jaremiah Palmer 1), Watervliet 3 (Epple 1, Williams 1, Bornas 1). Total fouls (fouled out): Brandywine 9, Watervliet 18 (Epple). Records: Brandywine 22-2, Watervliet 20-4