Brandywine held off a late rally against Centreville Wednesday evening, surviving for a 64-58 victory in the Regional 20 championship from Bronson High School.
“Even though the scoreboard didn’t reflect a win, I’m incredibly proud of this squad,” said Centreville head coach Jill Peterson. The Bulldogs nearly erased a 13-point hole in the final two minutes, making it back within three. Ultimately, ball control and bonus free throws helped the Bobcats maintain their advantage.
Centreville fell behind initially with Brandywine starting the game on an 11-4 run. The Bulldogs answered with an 11-2 run for their only lead of the night late the first quarter. The Bobcats finished the frame on a 6-0 run to get back ahead and grew their lead to 14 in the second before settling on an eight-point 38-30 halftime score.
“(Brandywine) just knocked down shots we weren’t contesting very well,” said Peterson. “They execute well on the offensive end and have a lot of sets.”
After a nearly even third quarter, Brandywine opened the fourth with a 7-1 run and began bleeding the clock. With about two minutes remaining, Centreville found themselves behind 57-44. Less than a minute later, the Bulldogs were back within one possession.
“In that moment, we could have crumbled, but we rose and fought back,” noted Peterson. “All heart and grit, and this team has a lot of that.”
The rally began with two Samara Schlabach free throws. Right off the inbound, the Bulldog defense forced a carry, then made two more Schlabach free throws after a Bobcat foul. Brandywine surrendered possession with a travel, followed by an Olivia Deeds three-pointer for a six-point deficit. Joanna Larsen stole the inbound, made the basket, and drew the foul. Her free throw put Centreville behind 57-54 with 1:32 remaining.
The Bobcats cleaned up their offensive mistakes for the final 90 seconds and forced the Bulldogs to foul, eventually getting Larsen kicked from the game with five fouls. Bonus free throws put Brandywine back up by six, followed by a Schlabach bucket with 40 seconds left for a 60-56 score. From there, the Bobcats hit four more free throws to secure the win.
“Basketball aside, I know that with adversity down the road, these kids won’t crumble but they will fight back – and in reality, that’s why I coach, to help prepare them for life,” added Peterson. “I love that basketball can be an avenue to do that. I’m thankful for each member of this basketball program and the seniors will be missed dearly.”
Schlabach was the top-scorer at 25 points, getting 18 in the second half. Larsen had 23, 17 of which came in the first half. Centreville finishes at 23-1, making it to the regional round for the first time since 1998. They graduate three seniors; Schlabach, Abby Nighswonger, and Whitney Morris.
All-state junior Zakiyyah Abdullah led Brandywine with 25 points. The Bobcats move to 23-2 and meet Pewamo-Westphalia in Tuesday’s quarterfinal at 7 p.m. from Thornapple Kellogg High School.
Video by Mat Stutzman
Samara Schlabach 25 points, 6 rebounds
Joanna Larsen 23 points, 10 rebounds
Olivia Deeds 6 points, 4 assists
Kenleigh West-Wing 4 points
Zakiyyah Abdullah 25
Malikiyyah Abdullah 12
Alexis Rhodes 11
Megan Schmidt 7
Madison Bailey 5
Nicole Sachman 4
Mendon’s spectacular season came to a close Wednesday night at home in an exciting finish to a Division 4 regional final. The Hornets cut the deficit to a point but came up just short against Fruitport Calvary Christian, who earned a trip to the state quarterfinals with a 49-46 victory.
Mendon finished the year with a 19-4 record. Fruitport Calvary Christian will take on Adrian Lenawee Christian for a shot at playing at Calvin College’s Noord Arena.
“The girls never gave up even when we got down by 10 in the third quarter,” Mendon coach Leasa Griffith said. “I couldn’t be prouder of my girls. They never gave up and that says a lot. What a great season.”
Fruitport Calvary Christian 11 12 11 15 — 49
Mendon 9 7 12 18 — 46
Fruitport Calvary Christian
Kelsey Richards – 21 points
Lizzie Cammenga – 17 points
Kristina Warren – 6 points
Brianna Johnson – 5 points
Amaijha Bailey – 7 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists
Aubrey Crotser – 11 points, 1 steal, 5 rebounds
Cierra Nightingale – 4 points, 2 rebounds, 3 blocks
Payton Griffith – 8 points, 2 steals, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
Hayley Kramer – 6 points, 1 steal, 9 rebounds, 2 assists
Taylor Heitkamp – 6 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists
Mackenzie Urick – 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks
Photos by Nicci Plummer