Area teams fall short in district basketball title hunts
Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet finished up their varsity boys’ basketball seasons last week, all three falling short of bringing home a district championship. Watervliet, who hosted Class C District 65 basketball, drew Brandywine in a first-round matchup Monday, March 5. The Panthers kept pace with Brandywine through the first quarter, matching the Bobcats bucket for bucket. After some nice drives by Bryant Kieft and Garrett Matthews and jumpers by Lamarrius Smith and Dan Cluster, the score was 17-17 after the first period. Brandywine chipped in the first bucket to open the second period. Watervliet responded with a 3-pointer to take the lead. The second period of play see-sawed as both teams put forth a slower pace compared to the first period; neither team scored double digits. Heading into intermission the board read: Watervliet 24, Brandywine 26. It was impressive to see Watervliet hang tough against the 16-6 Brandywine squad.
HOOPS AWAY… Watervliet’s Lamarrius Smith goes up for the jumper Monday, March 5 in the Panthers’ first-round Class C District 65 game against visiting Brandywine. Watervliet marked the end of their season with a 56-51 loss in overtime. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)
Watervliet, to their credit, handed Brandywine a loss earlier this season. The teams ended regulation all tied up and headed into overtime. Brandywine outdueled the Panthers 56-51 for the win, ending Watervliet’s season. The Panthers posted an 11-10 overall season and were 8-4 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference – Lakeshore Division. Hartford also played in the Class C District 65 bracket. The Indians took on the Bison of New Buffalo Monday, March 5 at New Buffalo. In what Hartford head coach John Johnson termed, “a physical matchup,” Hartford outplayed New Buffalo to the 67-58 win. In the first period, Hartford outscored the Bison 17-8 to dominate the first eight minutes of play. New Buffalo fired to life in the second period. They dropped in 15 points, beating Hartford’s scoring effort by one point. At intermission, Hartford led 31-23. The Bison played to the 14-13 advantage in the third period as they continued to rally.
CEILING… Hartford’s Trey Ackerman eyes the hoop Wednesday, March 7 as the Indians faced Brandywine in the Class C District 65 semi-finals game at Watervliet. Brandywine topped Hartford 62-44 to end the Indians’ basketball season. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)
Hartford kept the Bison at bay in the fourth period as they returned to fine form. The Indians scored 23 points with New Buffalo adding 21 points. The first-round victory went to Hartford, 67-58. Trey Ackerman scored 22 points to lead Hartford. Aaron Sinclair chipped in 18 points. Buddy Earls scored 12 points, and Garrod Johnson had 10. With the win in hand, Hartford faced off against Brandywine Wednesday, March 9 at Watervliet. A low-scoring first period found Hartford trailing 13-6. Brandywine built on their lead in the second period and led 32-16 at the half. Near the mid-point of the third period, Brandywine held a 15-point lead. But, the Hartford offense hit their stride, narrowing the Bobcat lead to eight points with three minutes left in the period. Although Hartford’s press staunched the Bobcat scoring in the period, the Indians fell a step behind. In the space of a minute-and-a-half, Brandywine scored five points. At the end of three, Brandywine led 47-31. Brandywine outscored Hartford 15-13 in the final period of the game, earning the semi-final district win 63-44. Hartford was led by Ackerman with 18 points. Aaron Sinclair and Garrod Johnson teamed up for seven points each. Evan Delarosa tallied five points, while Moses Beraza scored four points. Hartford ended their season with a 12-10 overall record. Meanwhile, in Class B District 33 action, Coloma earned a first-round bye. Their semi-final round opponent was Benton Harbor, who trampled over Niles in the Monday, March 5 game. Benton Harbor and Coloma hit the court Wednesday, March 7 and what a game, what a crowd! The doors were closed long before game time and a “SOLD OUT” sign hung on the Berrien Springs gym entrance doors. If you didn’t have a ticket in hand before you got to the game, chances were good you were sent home. The mood was electric, as Comet fans were ho