Buchanan rallies in fourth quarter to edge Dowagiac

Published 10:51 am Friday, January 19, 2024

DOWAGIAC — Two teams chasing Lakeland Conference leader Brandywine squared off in Dowagiac Thursday night.

Defending conference champion Buchanan trailed for a good portion of the first three quarters, but when the Chieftains went cold in the final eight minutes, the Bucks pounced and came away with a 37-30 victory.

The win left Buchanan (4-4, 3-1 Lakeland) a game behind the undefeated Bobcats, who are currently ranked No. 1 in Division 3. Dowagiac falls two games behind Brandywine as the Chieftains are now 6-3 overall and 2-2 in conference contests.

“I am happy to come out of Dowagiac with a victory,” said Buchanan Coach Gabe Miller. “Coach [Jason] Turner has his girls playing well this year. With their length, athleticism, and the zone they play, they are tough to score against in the half-court. We hoped to get out in transition and push the pace, but we didn’t rebound or play defense well enough to do that in the first three quarters.”

The two teams were deadlocked at 7-7 after one quarter and 20-20 at halftime.

Chieftain Olivia Gadde scored all but two of Dowagiac’s points in the first quarter, while Maggie Weller, the area’s leading scorer, had nine of the Chieftain’s 13 second-quarter points.

“Olivia Gadde had a big game for us tonight going against the [Alyssa] Carson,” Turner said. “Especially with Audrey [Johnson] coming back from an injury and giving us spot minutes tonight.”

Miller was impressed with Dowagiac’s senior leader.

“Maggie Weller is an exceptional athlete who dominated the first half,” Miller said.

The Bucks countered with their one-two punch of guard LaBria Austin, who is third in the area in scoring, and center Alyssa Carson (sixth in area scoring).

Carson scored seven points in the second quarter, and Austin scored six. Both had a 3-pointer, which Buchanan would count on in the second half during its rally.

Dowagiac came out of the halftime break and reclaimed its lead, holding Buchanan to five points in the third quarter.

This time, the Chieftains turned to Marlie Carpenter, who scored all eight of Dowagiac’s points in the quarter to give Dowagiac a 28-25 advantage with eight minutes to play.

Austin (3-pointer) and Carson (2-point basket) combined for all of the Bucks’ scoring in the third quarter.

Buchanan continued to make changes, hoping to hit on something to slow down the Chieftains and jumpstart its offense.

“We made a few adjustments defensively, and in the fourth quarter, found a group that played well together and put together a solid fourth quarter offensively and defensively to pull out the victory,” Miller said. “We were down two starters due to some illness and injuries, and it was nice to see some players step up.”

One of those players was Akirrah Robinson, a JV player, who stepped up and hit a key 3-pointer for the Bucks.

“Akirrah Robinson made great use of her fifth quarter and came in scored six points, and grabbed three rebounds,” Miller said.

Despite getting good looks at the basket, Dowagiac was unable to convert and was held to one basket by the Bucks.

“I am proud of the way our girls executed the game plan tonight,” Turner said. “We just fell cold in the fourth quarter and couldn’t get a basket to fall. We handled the different defenses they threw at us well, but just couldn’t get the ball to go through the bucket in the fourth.”

Miller was happy with how his team adjusted to the missing starters.

“Maddie Young also played well, grabbing five rebounds and coming up with four steals, while filling in at the “4” spot for us,” he said. “Three-year starter LaBria Austin carried the load offensively with 17 points, two steals and five rebounds, while two-year starter Alyssa Carson anchored the paint for us defensively with eight rebounds, five blocks, 10 points and three assists.”

Weller finished with 13 points to lead the Chieftains.



At Dowagiac


Maddie Young 4, Evyn Pruett 0, LaBria Austin 17, Caito Horvath 0, Alyssa Carson 10, Cam Carlson 0, Akirrah Robinson 6. TOTALS: 14 3-6 37.


Rebecca Guernsey 2, Marlie Carpenter 8, Faith Green 2, Maggie Weller 13, Olivia Gadde 5. TOTALS: 12 5-15 30.


Buchanan        7          20        25        37

Dowagiac        7          20        28        30

3-point baskets: Buchanan 6 (Austin 4, Carson 1, Robinson 1), Dowagiac 1 (Weller 1). Total fouls: Buchanan 11, Dowagiac 9. Records: Buchanan 4-4, 3-1 Lakeland Conference; Dowagiac 6-3, 2-2 Lakeland Conference