Bobcats advance to state finals with overtime win over McBain

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, March 14, 2024

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EAST LANSING — Senior Ja’Torian Smith came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points to lead Brandywine’s 51-48 comeback win in overtime against McBain in the Division 3 state semifinal game at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University Thursday afternoon.

The Bobcats, who struggled to shoot the ball most of the contest, trailed by double figures in the opening quarter, and by eight points with 3:33 remaining in regulation before mounting comebacks behind the shooting of Smith and its defense.

Trailing 44-42 with the final seconds ticking away in regulation, Byron Linley scored on a tip-in at the buzzer to tie the game at 44-44 and send the contest into a four-minute overtime.

Just like it did to start the game when McBain grabbed a 16-6 advantage, the Ramblers scored the first four points of the extra session to lead 48-44 with just under a minute gone.

Brandywine (25-3) once again mounted a comeback using a jumper by Jaremiah Palmer and the free throw shooting of Robert Whiting to tie the game at 48-48 with 1:04 remaining.

After McBain’s Claydon Ingleright missed a 3-point attempt with 53 seconds left in overtime, the Bobcats got the ball up the floor and ran its offense looking for the best available shot.

Just as he did the entire game, Smith was the answer as he connected on a 3-pointer to give Brandywine the 51-48 lead. McBain never got a shot off and the celebration was on for the large group of Brandywine fans who made the trip to East Lansing.

“We couldn’t get anything to fall down the stretch,” said Brandywine Coach Nathan Knapp. “It was one of those frustrating nights, but these kids just have no quit in them.”

Smith finished the game hitting 50 percent of his shots (6-of-12), which of which were 3-pointers. He also was 4-of-7 from the free throw line.

The Ramblers (25-3) led by eight points after the first quarter, but saw that lead dwindle away as the game progressed.

Brandywine outscored McBain 12-8 in the second quarter to cut the advantage to 24-20. The Bobcats again outscored the Ramblers in the third quarter, trimming the lead too 33-32 heading into the fourth quarter.

Besides Smith’ offensive output, the Bobcats also got 12 points from Jaremiah Palmer and seven points from Nylen Goins. Uncharacteristically, Brandywine shot 34 percent from the field (19-of-56).

“I just kept thinking something is going to come through,” Knapp said of the tough shooting night. “Nobody really got hot, but they just kept going. Even at the very end. Byron [Lindley] was at the right place at the right time. He got one of our few offensive rebounds and put it back in to send it to overtime.”

McBain, which shot 45 percent from the field (21-of-47) and held a 43-22 advantage in rebounding, was plagued by turnover issues. The Ramblers committed 27 miscues to the Bobcats’ 10.

“I think we turned them over 27 time, which kind of made up for the offensive rebounds,” Knapp said. “You can’t give up so many offensive rebounds like we did.”

Clayton Heuker had 14 points to lead McBain, which also got 12 points from Evan Haverkkamp.

Being there last year, the kids knew they had opportunities to win,” Knapp said. “They watched the film and saw what happened, so they never panicked and never gave up.”

Brandywine, which will face Detroit Old Redford, which defeated Riverview Gabriel Richard 43-41 in the other semifinals, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for the Division 3 championship.