Bobcats clear another hurdle with win over Chieftains

Published 11:47 am Wednesday, January 10, 2024

NILES — There are several hurdles that the Brandywine girl’s basketball team needs to clear en route to another Lakeland Conference championship.

The No. 5-ranked Bobcats used a 12-0 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to clear the second one as they defeated visiting Dowagiac 41-22 in a battle of conference undefeated teams Tuesday night.

“Was a good win vs a very well-coached and tough Dowagiac team,” said Brandywine Coach Josh Hood. “We have to do a much better job of shooting free throws (2-11) and find ways to attack the paint better, but overall, pleased with the effort and progress of our team. Anytime you hold a solid team to 22 points, you are playing good team defense, and I was proud of the girls for not allowing our inconsistent offense to affect their work ethic on the defensive end.”

Brandywine (6-0, 3-0 Lakeland) got off to a fast start against the Chieftains as it scored the game’s first six points.

Dowagiac (5-2, 1-1 Lakeland) finally got on the board with just under four minutes to play in the opening quarter when Rebecca Guernsey answered the Bobcats back-to-back 3-points with one of her own to make it a 6-3 contest.

The game turned into a defensive battle from there. Brandywine connected on its fourth 3-pointer of the quarter to give the Bobcats a 12-5 lead after eight minutes of play.

The Chieftains showed that they were not about to go away as they opened the second quarter scoring. Dowagiac was able to get the lead down to 14-11 midway through the stanza, but Brandywine turned up the defensive pressure, which allowed it to take force and take advantage of numerous Chieftains turnovers, several of which were unforced.

An Adeline Gill 3-pointer with 3:04 to play in the opening half gave the Bobcats a 17-11 advantage, but when Weller hit a 3-pointer, the Brandywine lead was back down to three points, 17-14.

Senior All-State point guard Ellie Knapp stepped up and delivered what proved to be the killer blow as she hit a 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining in the first half to spark a 6-0 that extended the Brandywine lead to 23-14 at halftime.

“I thought that our girls played a physical game,” said Dowagiac Coach Jason Turner. “Brandywine is a great team. They play very physical defense and can knock down shots. Which they knocked down quite a few big shots at big times.”

Dowagiac opened the second half with a basket to cut the lead to seven points, but that would be as close as it would get as the Bobcats pushed the lead up to 12 points on a 3-pointer by Knapp (28-16).

A pair of Weller free throws with 1:26 left in the quarter made it a 10-point contest, but Hood had his team hold the ball for the final minute and a half. Brandywine missed the shot at the buzzer, but took a 28-18 lead into the fourth quarter.

The 12-0 run to open the fourth quarter ended any chance the Chieftains had of pulling off the upset.

Miley Young scored the first five points of the run, while Gill had the next four points and Knapp finished off the run with the last three points to give the Bobcats a 22-point lead with 3:10 remaining.

“I thought we matched their intensity well, but they pulled away in the fourth when we had to start extending our defense,” Turner said.

Knapp led the Bobcats with 10 points, while Gill and Adelyn Drotoz both added nine points.

Weller had a game-high 21 points for the Chieftains, who also got six points from Guernsey.

Due to a potential winter storm starting Friday, Brandywine moved up its road game against host Benton Harbor to Thursday night.

Dowagiac is scheduled to host Berrien Springs in Lakeland Conference play Friday night.