Brethren rallies, downs MCE in OT

Brethren’s Lexi Lakso drives to the basket during Monday’s district quarterfinal win against Mason County Eastern. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

CUSTER — The quickest way back in a basketball game is to score in threes.

Brethren, down eight to start the fourth quarter in Monday night’s Class D quarterfinal, used that pace to save its season.

Back-to-back 3-point plays by Lexi Lakso and Annie MacNeil, followed by Sarah Costello’s triple from the corner, made up the Bobcats’ 9-0 run to start the final frame for their first lead of the night.

Despite Mason County Eastern’s counter, which sent the game to overtime, Brethren edged the Cardinals 58-52 to move on in the tournament.

“The key was composure,” said Brethren coach Julie Riggs of battling with their backs against the wall. “We beat these girls twice before (in the regular season), so we knew they would come after us with all they had.”

Even Riggs had to express relief when it was over, and in her team’s favor.

“First thing I told them in the locker room was ‘Ladies, we have practice tomorrow. Can I get an Amen?’” she said. “This is what districts are.”

Lakso led the way with a game-high 19 points and six assists while MacNeil scored 15 with eight boards and four blocks. Costello scored eight with six assists and four steals before fouling out late in regulation while Cailon Modjeski knocked down a trio of key 3-pointers in the third for nine points. Jordin Wilks and Josie Judnic grabbed 11 and 10 boards, respectively.

The district hosts looked in control for the majority of the contest.

Led by seniors Elena Luce and Abigail Wheeler, each with 14 points MCE had a 10-6 lead after the first and a 21-13 advantage by the break.

“We were relaxed and took care of the basketball,” said Cardinals coach Matt Millspaugh of the early success. “In the second half, we seemed to make some bonehead passes at times, and lost our focus on defense at times.

Brethren’s Maribel Acosta shoots during Monday’s district quarterfinal win against Mason County Eastern. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

“(Brethren) seemed to be getting to more of the loose balls than we did, too,” he added. “But in the first half, those were ours.”

Missed buckets and turnovers doomed Brethren (13-8) in a 13-point first half, but the offense began to pick up a bit in the third.

“Our offense was obviously not working the first three and a half quarters,” Riggs said. “We were really battling sick out there, so they had to show me they have a lot of heart.”

Modjeski kept Brethren within striking distance with well-timed 3s spread out in the third, but the Bobcats still trailed 37-29 by the end of the quarter.

The offensive consistency Brethren was searching for all game, suddenly sparked to start the fourth. The quick 9-0 run in the opening pair of minutes gave the Bobcats a 38-37 lead.

From there, the teams exchanged leads four times, and tied thrice.

The last deadlock came with 11 seconds remaining, when, after a pair of offensive boards by the Cardinals, Wheeler was fouled and knocked down a pair of pressure free throws to force overtime.

Costello was charged with the foul on Wheeler — her fifth — which left the Bobcats, who were unable to get a quality look at the buzzer, to play overtime without their starting point guard.

“We actually weren’t worried, because I knew we’d have girls there to step up,” Riggs said. “That’s what we’ve learned in the last few weeks: when someone goes down, the next one steps up.”

In overtime, MCE (7-14) began to lose players. Of the five Cardinals that started the extra four minutes with four fouls, four fouled out.

“That’s kind of a lot,” Millspaugh said of his depleting lineup down the stretch. “It’s just tough to address the seniors on a night like this — losing in overtime in a district game.”

Brethren outscored the opposition 8-1 in the final frame, but went just 3-of-12 from the foul line.

Still, Riggs is glad her Bobcats move on to Manistee Catholic Central on Wednesday for a semifinal at 7 p.m., while Pentwater, which topped Walkerville 42-23 on Monday, hosts the other semi against Baldwin.

“Coaching these girls for three years now, we’ve been one-and-done before tonight,” Riggs said. “This year, with the depth of seniors we have, they don’t want it to be done. Now we’ve got the taste.”

 

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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