BRIDGMAN — The Bridgman High School boys varsity basketball team held off Countryside Academy 48-43 in a Nov. 27 home opener.
The Bees led most of the way (on top 7-6 after one quarter and 17-14 at the half), but the Cougars stayed close until a third-quarter three-point shot by Charles Booker lifted his team on top 24-23.
Bridgman answered with a “3” from Henry Branch and Jackson Schmaltz’s three-point play to carry a narrow 30-28 advantage into the fourth stanza, which opened with Luke Blesy dropping in another trey to expand the lead.
A pair of free throws from Alec Goff and his subsequent basket upped the margin to 39-31.
The Bees would need all of it as reverse no-look lay-ups by Booker and Raeshaun Walters cut the lead down to 40-36 with 1:38 to go.
Goff got a clutch block on Booker under the basket with 23 ticks of the clock remaining (and Bridgman leading 45-40).
“I was in the right spot,” Goff said.
It was a free-throw shooting contest from there,
Countryside went 3-for-6 while the Bees did the same. Blesy made both opportunities with 8.9 seconds left to provide the final margin of victory.
Branch said felt good to hold the cougars under 10 points in two of the game’s four quarters.
“A wins a win. We’ve got some mistakes that we need to clean up,” he added.
Branch led a balanced Bee attack with 13 points. Schmaltz scored 11 while Blesy and Goff had 9 points apiece.
Booker finished with a game-high 18 points while Walters had 11.
Bridgman coach Mike Miller said ball control was a positive for the Bees.
“We only had seven turnovers as a team.”
But the shooting wasn’t as stellar — 27 percent from field and 57 percent from the foul line.
“What I’m really disappointed in is that we gave up 20 offensive rebounds ... We’re not going to win many games in our league giving up that many rebounds,” Miller noted.
Bridgman won the JV contest 46-30 with Nick Eckler scoring 17 points (he made five three-pointers).