Bobcats unbeaten out of the gate

Brethren’s Michael Pettinato shoots over three Mason County Eastern defenders during the Bobcats’ victory on Dec. 17. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Brethren’s Michael Pettinato shoots over three Mason County Eastern defenders during the Bobcats’ victory on Dec. 17. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

From one end of the floor to the other, in a blink of an eye, the Bobcats have proven they can pour in points quickly.

Brethren’s transition game has been smooth so far this season, as has the transition for first-year varsity coach Jen Wojciechowski, whose team is off to an undefeated start at 3-0.

“I think the biggest thing has been they kind of knew my system heading into it, and they understood what I was looking for,” said the Bobcats’ former junior varsity coach. “The difference always is whether you’re able to do it, and, to me, our last couple games showed they can.”

Brethren shook out the early rust in its season opener against county rival Manistee Catholic Central, and with a 20-5 run in the fourth quarter, secured a 49-30 West Michigan D League victory.

The Bobcats then dominated Mason County Eastern, 69-36, and again used a huge fourth quarter to pull away from Big Rapids Crossroads, 68-53, to head into the winter break unscathed.

“Our scrimmages and our first game, we started slow, but the last two, we’ve played outstanding games,” Wojciechowski said. “We played really good basketball, and we needed to; we needed every point we could get.

“And what I liked about our games was we didn’t necessarily win them early. We won it in the end, which shows that we’re conditioned.”

The Bobcats have to be in Wojciechowski’s system, which emphasizes unrelenting pressure without the ball.

“I told them we’re going to live and die by our defense, and as long as the press isn’t hurting us, we’ll use it,” she said. “We’ll change it up as much as possible (during the game), too, to get teams to figure us out all over again.

“The guys have been really good at switching up our defenses, and our offenses, to get us going.”

And with such an athletic team, Wojciechowski believes that that’s how to maximize those natural attributes.

“I don’t think we play our best when we’re limited to a half court game,” she said. “These guys are fast, good passers, and have some length, which allows us to do some things other teams might not be able to do.”

Offensively, Brethren has tapped into several sources for points. The past two games, the team’s had four players in double figures each night, and five different Bobcats have scored 10 or more in a game so far this season.

“That’s been one of the keys,” Wojciechowski said. “We don’t specifically have a go-to person. We’ve got five guys on the court that are capable of double digits every night.

“There’s no one really (for the opposition) to key in on, because it can be any one of them,” she added. “That can make a big difference.”

Although the Bobcats have played well so far, they know the season is a grind heading toward the district tournament.

“It’s a nice start,” Wojciechowski said, “but we’ve got a lot of work to do. Our toughest games are probably yet to come.

“We have to be prepared for who our competition is, which is my job,” she added. “But, if the guys keep playing the way they are, if that continues, we should do well.

“They’ve really done a nice job giving me their heart and soul for the team. … They’re so coachable, which makes it fun for me, and it’s great for our program.”

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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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