Brandywine wins elusive regional championship

Published 8:30 am Thursday, March 16, 2023

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COLOMA — The wait is over.

On Wednesday night, the Brandywine boys basketball team continued its magical season by blowing out Centreville 58-35 to the school’s first-ever regional championship at Coloma High School.

The Bobcats scored the first 17 points of the Division 3 Regional championship game. They never looked back as they earned a spot in Tuesday’s state quarterfinal game at Portage Central against perennial state powerhouse Pewamo-Westphalia.

For the second time in its last six games, Brandywine was functioning on all cylinders in the first half. The Bobcats turned in a similar performance against Edwardsburg (Feb. 28) where they opened up a 38-19 halftime lead a nearly flawless first-half performance.

But Brandywine did not remain focused in the second half and needed a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to edge the Eddies 55-53. The lessons learned from that game paid dividends against the Bulldogs Wednesday night.

“They were on a different level tonight with their focus,” said Brandywine Coach Nathan Knapp. “I did talk to them about that [the Edwardsburg game] at halftime. I talked about how important it was that we don’t have any letdowns and keep doing the things were  doing.”

Brandywine (24-2) was making its fifth appearance in the regional championship game, with the last coming in 1999 when the Bobcats fell to Kalamazoo Christian. Brandywine also appeared in the 1965, 1969 and 1992 regional title games. Knapp was a sophomore on the 1992 squad.

“I talked to them about that,” he said about his experience in the regional title game. “I think it helped too. That was my message on Sunday, and I also reminded them about it after the win against Hackett. I was in the same boat. We won our first game against Fennville, which was supposed to win it all. They were averaging like 81 points a game. I can remember walking into that locker room and looking at those seniors because we fell short. We overlooked White Pigeon, and I always said to myself as a sophomore ‘We will get back here.’ My junior year, we lost in districts at River Valley, and they went to the Final Four. My senior year, we got upset. You may never get that opportunity again, and you can’t plan on it. You need to seize the opportunity.”

There was very little doubt about the outcome of Wednesday night’s contest after the opening five minutes of the contest. Brandywine’s Michael Palmer got the Bobcats off to a great start as after Centreville won the tip, he came up with a steal and a score to help lead Brandywine to a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, forcing Centreville into a time out.

The lead reached 17-0 before the Bulldogs finally got a shot to fall. Brandywine overwhelmed Centreville with its attacking style at both ends of the court, which forced turnovers, quick shots, and the type of tempo the Bobcats enjoy playing at.

“They know that too,” Knapp said. “They understand that if we are not hitting, we still have a chance to win every game because of the way they play defense. We actually talked about that at our practice after Watervliet when they went on that 17-0 run. ‘I said most teams get blown out. You guys found a way with your defense to stick around and gave yourselves an opportunity to win it.’”

Jaremiah Palmer led Brandywine with 14 points, while Michael Palmer finished with 12 points and Jamier Palmer 10 points.

Roman Robinson was the lone Bulldogs to reach double figures as he led all scorers with 16 points, most of which came after the outcome had already been decided.

Brandywine will face the Pirates (19-6) in the quarterfinals Tuesday night. Pewamo-Westphalia edged Grandville Calvin Christian 63-61 on a tip-in basket at the buzzer Wednesday night.

The Pirates won the 2019 Division 3 state championship over Iron Mountain.



At Coloma


Jerimiah Palmer 14, Michael Palmer 12, Byron Linley 5, Nylen Goins 6, Jamier Palmer 10, Brock Dye 1, Robert Whiting 6, Brad Covington 4, Ethan Adamczyk 0. TOTALS: 23 10-14 58


Harrison Gregory 6, Gavin Bunning 8, Micah Leminga 1, Roman Robinson 16, CJ Noble 2, Brady Miller 2. TOTALS: 12 7-11 35


Brandywine    19       36       48       58

Centreville       2         9         16       35

3-point baskets: Brandywine 2 (Linley, Jamier Palmer); Centreville 4 (Gregory 2, Bunning, Robinson). Total fouls (Fouled out): Brandywine 9 (none), Centreville 8 (none). Records: Brandywine 24-2, Centreville 18-8