Division 3: Versatility leads Bobcats to regional final

Published 8:57 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023

COLOMA — Versatility has been the key to success for the No. 9-ranked Brandywine boys basketball team this season.

That versatility was on display at Coloma High School Monday night in the Division 3 Regional semifinals against Kalamazoo Hackett as the Bobcats defeated the Fighting Irish 58-42 to advance to its first regional championship game in three decades.

The Bobcats were red-hot from outside the 3-point line in the first half as it took a 27-22 lead over the Fighting Irish into the locker room at halftime. When Brandywine (23-2) cooled off from the outside, the Bobcats attacked the interior from all angles, which helped them turn a 29-29 in the opening moments of the second half into a 40-29 advantage with an 11-0 run.

Kalamazoo Hackett never got any closer than 48-42 with 3:42 remaining in the contest.

A trio of players led Brandywine during that stretch, whose names sound more like a law firm — Palmer, Palmer and Palmer — than a wrecking crew. Jamier Palmer snapped the 29-29 tie with a basket, while cousin Michael Palmer connected on a pair of free throws. Jaremiah Palmer, Jamier’s twin brother, had a steal and score, while Michael Palmer added another basket off a steal to give Brandywine a 10-point lead, and a shot at the first regional championship in the school’s history.

“We went inside, and we started playing a little better defense,” said veteran Brandywine Coach Nathan Knapp. “The Palmer twins are amazing. If they don’t score 20 a game, they impact the game with their defense and everything they do. The way they see the court. Their vision is amazing. Michael had two crucial steals and went coast-to-coast on one of them for a layup. The kids played really well,”

While “P3” may have stolen the show in the second half, the play of junior Byron Linley and freshman Nylen Goins got the Bobcats off to a great start by hitting a combined six 3-pointers in the opening 16 minutes of play.

Linley hit the game’s opening shot, while Goins had a trio of triples in the first half. Linley added a second one to help the Bobcats take a 13-12 lead after one quarter, which they stretched to five points at halftime.

Goins finished the night with a game-high 18 points for Brandywine, which also to 10 points each from Jaremiah Palmer and Linley. Jaremiah Palmer added 10 points, four rebounds and a pair of steals, while Jamier Palmer finished with eight points, four rebounds three steals. Michael Palmer contributed seven points and grabbed five rebounds.

Logan St. Martin led Hackett (18-7) with 15 points and was the lone Fighting Irish player to reach double figures.

The Bobcats advance to Wednesday’s regional final to face Centreville, a 55-40 winner over Lawton in the other semifinal Monday night. The Bulldogs were runners-up to Cassopolis in the Southwest 10 Conference. The Rangers swept Centreville during the regular season, including a 59-37 win over the Bulldogs in the conference championship game.

Brandywine defeated Cassopolis 61-35 in a non-conference contest Jan. 31.