Brethren tops standings, wins battle for county bragging rights with 39-35 win over Bear Lake

 

Brethren’s Marie Falls (23) collides with Bear Lake’s Hayley May during the Bobcats’ 39-35 win over the Lakers on Tuesday. Falls had the game-winning basket with 16 seconds left. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Brethren’s Marie Falls (23) collides with Bear Lake’s Hayley May during the Bobcats’ 39-35 win over the Lakers on Tuesday. Falls had the game-winning basket with 16 seconds left. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BRETHREN — Brethren girls basketball had to hold off two furious comeback attempts by Bear Lake on Tuesday to climb into a share of first place in the West Michigan D League.

The Bobcats won 39-35, despite leading by double-digits in the second half and giving away a lead late, but four points in the final 16 seconds were all that mattered.

“At the beginning of the game I told them that this could be the district final. It really could,” Bear Lake coach Jeff Harthun said. “We both have to get there, but we wanted to make a statement.”

The win keeps Brethren (12-4, 10-2) in the conference title race with only two games remaining. Pentwater defeated Mason County Eastern (13-3, 10-2) 59-49 on Tuesday, which puts the Bobcats into a first-place tie with the Cardinals. The two teams will play next next Thursday with at least a piece of the conference title on the line for both teams.

Brethren came out fast in the opening minutes by feeding junior center Mariah Pringle in the low block. She scored eight points in the first quarter, and mixed in with eight from Taytum Myers in the same span gave the Bobcats a lead 17-8 after one.

The Lakers, who were already playing without Kaitlynn Omar, suffered another hit early when Wren Gilbert went down with an ankle injury. That was negated by Pringle picking up her second foul with 2:22 left in the first.

Without Pringle in the game for a big part of the second quarter the smaller Bear Lake lineup was able to slowly edge back into the game.

“Bear Lake is scrappy,” Brethren coach Julie Riggs said. “They had some foul trouble, but they kept coming back. I don’t know what Jeff tells them in the timeouts. They just don’t quit. That’s why we’re such a good match up against each other.”

Bear Lake began crawling back into the game starting with a Hayley May three-point shot to open the second to make the game 17-11, and two layups from Abby Cross in the final minute of the quarter cut the Brethren lead to 21-15 at the break. Cross finished the game with 10 points and five rebounds and May had seven points and eight rebounds.

At the half Myers had 12 points to go along with Pringle’s eight, accounting for 20 of the 21 Brethren points.

Neither team came out of the locker room playing well to begin the second half, but Myers was able to muscle two baskets to take a 29-22 lead at the end of third. The two field goals would be a part of her 18 points and three steals.

Bear Lake did keep Pringle from taking over in the second half with only two of her 10 points coming after intermission. She also would finish with 10 rebounds and four blocks.

“Our game plan did change. It really changed when Wren went down. We lost some senior leadership. I give a lot of credit to my kids,” Harthun said.

The Lakers came out quick early in the fourth with an 8-0 run to take their first, and only, lead of the game at 30-29 with 6:02 left after two baskets from Belinsky.

Laker point guard Yuki Babinec drained a three-point shot from the right wing to tie the game at 35 with 30 seconds left, but that gave the Bobcats too much time on the other end.

After working the ball around the zone, Marie Falls cut to the basket from the high block to make an open layup with 16 seconds left and take a lead at 37-35. Myers stole the ensuing inbound to seal the victory, and two free-throws from Lindsey Krizan iced the game.

“The game plan was changing on the fly,” Harthun said. “They were doing what I told them to do. A loss is still a loss, but I have to give them some credit.”

Bear Lake (12-5, 8-4) will be back on Thursday at home against Pentwater (9-6, 9-3), while Brethren will be at home against Manistee Catholic Central on the same night.

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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