The Bridgman High School varsity basketball team gathers at the bench during a recent game against New Buffalo.

NILES — Brandywine started the Monday, Feb. 25, Division 3 boys basketball district opener against Bridgman at a frantic pace, scoring the game’s first 12 points. That was enough to hang on for a 36-24 victory as the game slowed down into a strategic stalemate in the second half, with Brandywine holding the ball as Bridg­man stayed set in a zone de­fense despite a deficit.

“We don’t like to stall,” Brandywine coach Nathan Knapp said. “We’re a team that we get up and go, we attack. The stall kind of got us out of rhythm a little bit.”

District host Brandywine advanced to face Eau Claire at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27. Watervliet topped Bangor 64-47 in Monday’s first game and will play rival Hartford at 6 p.m. Wednes­day.

Brandywine (18-2) led 29-17 midway through the third quarter when it began holding the ball outside. As Bridgman didn’t come out to challenge, the final four minutes of the third quarter ticked away, with the Bob­cats missing their final shot at the buzzer.

“I was just going to pull our kids out to run a set,” Knapp said. “When I called it out there, I could see they were just staying back. We’ve got a four-corner stall, so maybe that will give the kids a little rest, maybe we’ll get an easy bucket. I couldn’t believe they didn’t come out.”

Bridgman made prog­ress as it began fouling in the fourth quarter, get­ting two 3-pointers from Henry Branch. The Bob­cats missed five of six free­throw attempts in that time. Bridgman trailed 30-23 and had a chance to cut it to four when Luke Blesy missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

From there, the Bobcats made six of their last eight free-throw attempts to put the game out of reach.

“Our game plan and strategy throughout the night was that when there was 3 minutes left in the game, we wanted (the deficit) to be under 10,” Bridgman coach Mike Miller said. “We were down seven with 2 1/2 minutes to go and missed an open 3, so we did what we needed to do. I’m pleased with the boys, I thought we played really hard. They beat us by 50 points three weeks ago. I thought we played a really good game tonight.”

The Bobcats’ pressure defense forced turnovers on Bridgman’s first four possessions as they built their early 12-0 advantage, and were up 27-11 at halftime.

“I thought we really made a mistake at the beginning of the game,” Miller said. “We came out hurried, in a little bit of a panic situation, and that 12-0 run to start the game cost us.”

Jordan Abrams led Brandywine with a gamehigh 13 points. Blesy scored 12 for Bridgman, all on 3-pointers, and Branch added nine.

In the opener, freshman Andrew Chisek scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Watervliet (2-17) past Bangor (4-15).

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