Bobcats feast on Ravens for Division 3 state championship

Published 7:08 pm Saturday, March 16, 2024

EAST LANSING — Brandywine’s dominance on the glass and aggressive nature pushed them to a 56-48 come-from-behind win over Detroit Old Redford and the Division 3 state boys’ basketball title early Saturday night at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.

“I’m really proud of these guys because they all played extremely hard tonight and stuck to our plan for success all season long. We preach that defense wins big games. I just felt that we did a great job of stopping their penetration (Old Redford) and helped each other out on defense. Old Redford is a very quick and athletic team. We also did a great job of attacking the basket and boxing out too,” said Brandywine Coach Nathan Knapp.

“Our motto all season has been five guys on the floor playing together with one heartbeat. The kids really buy into that and our practices are very intense each day. These kids have tackled a lot of adversity while playing a brutal schedule with a big target back. This group never seems to panic in any situation.”

Knapp’s Bobcats, who fell a game short of reaching the finals a year ago, were able to accomplish their goal of winning its first state championship thanks to a 36-27 rebounding advantage and a big effort on both ends of the court in the second half.

Trailing Old Redford 24-23 at halftime, Brandywine’s relentless effort at the defensive end helped the Bobcats outscore the Ravens 20-5 in the third quarter and built a 43-29 cushion entering the final period.

“I thought we came out and imposed our will in that third quarter. We got a big cushion with our tough defense and I think that was the difference in this game,” Knapp said.

Senior guard Jaremiah Palmer ignited the Bobcat run with a dunk off a steal and assist from twin brother Jamier Palmer and senior center Jaytee Smith’s tip-in off an offensive board capped off the period.

“My brother Jaremiah and I did a great job of getting a couple key steals and him getting that dunk to start things off energized us and the crowd we had here supporting us,” Jamier Palmer said.

Brandywine’s senior center Brock Dye stated that winning the state championship is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a tight-knit bond that he and his teammates have formed over the last few years.

“Every kid out shooting in his driveway has that same dream his senior year of going out and winning a state championship. This has been one crazy ride and there’s no better way to finish it off than the way we did,” Dye said.

Kason Mayes’ put back for Old Redford (21-8) after a Brandywine turnover pulled the Ravens back within nine points, 44-35 with a little over three minutes left. That’s as close as the Ravens would come rest of the night.

Brandywine (26-3) proceeded to hit 7-of-12 free-throw attempts in the final period, along with getting two inside buckets in the last three minutes from senior Byron Linley to help the Bobcats seal up the victory.

Brandywine finished the game shooting 15-of-43 (34.8 percent) from the field and 24-of-35 (69 percent) at the free-throw stripe.

The Bobcats were led by Jaremiah Palmer with 18 points, while Jamier Palmer added eight, Linley and Robert Whiting chipped in six each and Nylen Goins added five points.

Smith also yanked down 10 rebounds and had two blocks. The Palmer twins added six boards apiece. Jamier Palmer also had three assists for the Bobcats. Linley and Jaremiah Palmer came up with three steals each.

Old Redford ended the game 18-of-47 (38.2 percent) shooting from the floor, including just 2-for-16 on three-point attempts, and finished 10-of-16 (63 percent) at the free-throw line.

Jaylin Muldrow pumped in 14 points to lead Old Redford. Ja’Quan Stennis added 10 points and six rebounds for Mayes finished with eight points.

Brandywine committed 11 turnovers and forced Old Redford into nine miscues.

“Give Niles Brandywine a lot of credit. They were much more aggressive than we were on the floor tonight,” said Old Redford Coach Ray Reeves. “They won a lot of the 50-50 balls and their experience made a huge difference. Brandywine lost in the semifinals last year. We watched them accept the first-place trophy, hopefully that motivates us to get back here next year.”

Brandywine jumped out to a quick 4-1 advantage in the opening quarter on a 7-foot jumper by Jaremiah Palmer and a Linley layup.

Old Redford went on a 9-0 run to take a 10-4 advantage with 2:28 left in the first quarter.

But Brandywine would reel off the last five points and close its deficit to one, 10-9, entering the second quarter.

Both teams scored 14 points during the second quarter. Brandywine got key baskets in the stanza from Whiting and Jaremiah Palmer to take a 20-16 advantage at one point. However, Old Redford finished the half with a 8-3 run to take a 24-23 lead into halftime.