THREE OAKS — The Bridgman boys and girls high school basketball teams emerged from Mustang Country with wins on Friday, March 19.
The Bridgman girls rallied from a four-point half-time deficit to build a 30-22 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. The host Mustangs roared back to pull within a single point of the lead before the Bees held on to prevail 39-33.
On the boys’ side River Valley jumped out to a 7-2 margin before Bridgman was able to ride a wave of five second-quarter three-pointers to a 30-22 lead at the half. The Bees out-scored RV 20-12 in the third period and went on to post a 66-54 win.
The Lady Mustangs got a pair of three-point baskets from Natalyn Heckathorn and scores by Claudia Rebollar and Alyssa Montgomery to lead 10-6 after one quarter.
Baskets by Hailey Hauch, Macey Springer and Taylor Volstorf to carry an 18-14 advantage into half-time. Bridgman scored all but two of its second-period points from the foul line.
Arie Hackett’s steal, shot and free-throw early in the third frame pulled the Bees within one (18-17). Later in the third consecutive scores by Brooklyn Wydick and Samantha Rydwelski followed by Yvonne Carranza’s free throw and two more steals and hoops from Hackett opened up a 28-20 lead for Bridgman.
“I was anticipating the passes and trying to get in front of my girl and worked out,” Hackett said.
Trailing 30-22 as the final stanza began, River Valley reeled off seven unanswered points on a rebound and put-back by Kirsten Smith, Volstorf’s “3,” and a runner by Heckathorn to make it a 30-29 ball-game.
The Bees answered with a decisive 5-0 run that included Rydwelski’s offensive rebound and basket, Lily Badger sinking a jumper, and a foul shot from Hackett with 1:23 left in regulation.
From there Bridgman went 4-for-6 from the line while holding the Mustangs to a pair of free throws and a field goal from Heckathorn.
“We came in knowing what we had to do – we had to just play,”Badger said.
Hackett paced a balanced Bee attack with 12 points, Rydwelski sacred 11 and Badger added 8 points.
Heckathorn finished with 12 points for RV.
Bridgman coach Kim Lundin said the press “turned everything around.”
The Bees edged Cassopolis 43-40 on Monday, March 22, to open the Division 3 girls district tournament.
The River Valley boys got early buckets from Lennon Lange, Evan Gatz (a three-pointer) and Jayden McNabb on March 19 to grab a 7-2 lead. The Bees roared to take a 14-11 advantage thanks to three-point scores by John Sanderson and Luke Blesy, followed by scores from Jayce Warren, Nate Necas and Blesy.
Josh Seifert pulled the Mustangs even early in the second period by connecting from three-point land, but Bridgman would go on to drop five “3s” before half-time (two each by Sanderson and Warren plus another from Blesy) to forge a 30-22 margin at the half-way point.
The Bees stayed hot from outside, sinking three more three-pointers in the third quarter (with Sanderson, Dylan Reisig and Necas connecting) to carry a 50-34 lead into the fourth frame. Warren tallied six of his game-high 18 points in the third.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy tonight – they bought a lot of energy too,” Blesy said. “We were smart with the basketball, I thought we shared the ball pretty well.”
The Mustangs out-scored Bridgman 20-16 over the final 8 minutes as Seifert and Lange hit late three-pointers. They would finish with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Sanderson (17 points), Blesy (13) and Reisig (11 points) contributed to a balanced Bee attack.
Bridgman coach Mike Miller said the Bees have improved drastically during the short season, adding this was the first time this year they played in front of a big crowd.
River Valley coach Tyler Haske said “I felt like we just couldn’t get in a flow.”