Buchanan stays the course, advances to district semifinals

Published 7:53 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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WHITE PIGEON — A strong shooting and defensive performance by the Buchanan boys’ basketball team helped preserve a 70-61 Division 3 district quarterfinal win Monday over pesky Bridgman at White Pigeon.

Buchanan, now 10-13, advances to face No. 1-ranked Niles Brandywine (19-3) in Wednesday’s second semifinal at 7 p.m. White Pigeon (16-4) and Cassopolis (11-9) battle in the other game at 5:30 p.m. The finals are Friday at 7 p.m.

The win for Reid McBeth’s Bucks avenges a 50-42 loss to Mike Miller’s Bees (12-11) from earlier in the regular season.

All five Buchanan players that scored reached double-digits led by junior Logan Wiggins with 17 points. Sophomore guard Liam McBeth, son of the Bucks’ head coach, totaled 15 followed by Preston Payne and Karmine Brown with 14 points apiece and senior Matt Trigg poured in 10.

Buchanan drained 25-of-54 field-goal attempts, including 11 three-pointers, and finished 11-of-15 at the free-throw stripe.

“We shot the ball very well tonight. Our two sophomore guards Preston and Liam had six threes between them tonight. Their teammates know they can shoot and score. But they are also unselfish and can find the open guy too,” McBeth said.

Brown led the Bucks’ torrid outside shooting clinic with four triples, while Payne and Liam McBeth contributed three apiece.

Wiggins added 10 rebounds to finish the night with a double-double. Trigg contributed six rebounds, while Payne added four boards.

“I was proud of the kids’ effort tonight. We lost to Bridgman early in the season. This was the first time this year we had a chance to avenge a loss like that. All teams are 0-0 when the tournament begins. We always have good games with Bridgman. We’re happy to win this and be back playing again on Wednesday,” McBeth said.

Bridgman was paced in the scoring column by Chuck Pagel who pumped in 17 points to share game-high scoring laurels with Liam McBeth. Wade Haskins and Jared Schroeder contributed 12 each and Ethan Stine and Teddy Ippel finished with nine points each.

The Bees ended up making 18 field-goal attempts, including 12 triples, and finished 11-of-15 at the charity stripe.

Buchanan outrebounded Bridgman 26-21.

Brown also collected five steals for Buchanan.

Pagel ripped down seven rebounds for the Bees.

The Bucks committed 14 turnovers to 11 for the Bees.

Buchanan raced out to an early 16-6 advantage with 3:03 left in the first quarter following a pair of triples from Brown and one each by Tristan Nesbit, McBeth and Jarett Seddon.

Bridgman was also hitting a high percentage of three pointers, including three from Schroeder and one each from Ippel and Pagel in the opening stanza, which ended with the Bucks out in front 21-15.

Three of the Bees first four shots it made in the second quarter were triples, including two by Stine, to help them pull within five, 31-26.

Payne drained a three for Buchanan and Wiggins converted two points after drive the lane and laying the ball off the backboard to put his team in front 36-30 at halftime.

“The shots seemed to be falling for everyone in the first half. The rim seems to get bigger and bigger as you keep making those. I told our kids at halftime to make sure we didn’t fall in love and keep taking a lot of threes,” McBeth said.

Buchanan led Bridgman by as many as seven points, 42-35 at the 5:45 mark of the third quarter. But the Bucks saw the Bees outscore them 10-5 the remainder of the quarter to force a 47-47 deadlock entering the final period.

Trigg scored the first five points in a 8-0 Buchanan run to start the fourth quarter to help the Bucks expand its lead to 55-47.

Haskins’ two free-throw tosses helped pull Bridgman to six points with 5:30 left in the game.

Wiggins added five points, while Payne scored inside and the Bucks made 8-of-10 free-throw chances down the stretch to seal up the win.

Bridgman had a rough finish to its season. The Bees were battling some injuries and illness down the stretch.

“Buchanan shot 86 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter and we shot just 18 percent. That was the main difference. Liam McBeth played his best game of the year for Buchanan and I’ve seen them play 11 times,” said Bridgman’s long-time head coach Mike Miller.

“Buchanan plays in a tough league and Reid does a nice job coaching them.”

McBeth knows Wednesday’s game with Brandywine will be a challenge, but the Bucks’ veteran coach says its one his ballclub is looking forward to.

“Brandywine plays in a heckuva basketball team. We’ll certainly have our hands full, but we’re going to come out and give it our best effort,” McBeth said.