Two Losses, but Still Unbeaten in League

Eager to enter the Whitfield game are (from left) Ryan Short, Kenya Thompson, Malik Kelly and Michael McGrath. Coach Brad Kern said they were one of the only bright spots in the game for Brentwood, which lost by 23. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

BHS Boys Face Showdown at Bayless on Tuesday

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit

The Brentwood High School boys basketball team has begun the crazy part of its schedule, with seven games over 11 days. But after losing to Maplewood Richmond Heights last night, the busy schedule might be a blessing. It will keep head coach Brad Kern from dwelling on what might have been.

In a noisy, packed gym in Maplewood, backed by a huge student cheering section, the Eagles led for the first 11 minutes. They fell behind by 15 points but scraped to within seven in the final minutes before losing by 12. The game left Kern pondering a few what-ifs.

“There are about 10 possessions I wish we had back, where we made some mistakes that you can’t make against good teams,” said Kern. “We forced some bad shots, forced some penetration when it wasn’t there that led to some turnovers, got beat back a couple of times on the offensive end. If you take those 10 possessions out, it’s a different ball game.”

The Brentwood student cheering section was loud, proud and back in black on Tuesday at Maplewood. Despite their team trailing by up to 15 in the second half, the cheering never stopped. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Also in the past week Brentwood, 6-6, lost to Whitfield but clobbered Hancock to stay undefeated in the South Central Athletic Association Conference. If they can beat Valley Park on Friday they’ll head into Tuesday’s showdown at Bayless with a huge chance to win the conference title outright. They’ll still have three conference games after that, but they’ve already routed two of those teams.

Of course, second-place Bayless, 10-5, would love to knock off Brentwood to move into a tie for the conference lead. They lost to the Eagles by only six points on Jan. 10.

Roland Floyd shoots over MRH’s Devon Williams (left) and Chris Blocker. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Jan. 28: at MRH 68, Brentwood 56

Will Erby and Marc Powells banged down four three-pointers and Justice Bratcher hooked in a spectacular underhanded baseline layup that kept Brentwood on top for the entire first quarter. But after Erby sank two free throws for a three-point lead early in the second quarter, Maplewood started following steals with layups and scored 13 points in a row.

In the second quarter BHS went on a 6-2 run to cut the lead to six, but MRH scored seven points in a row for a 13-point halftime lead. Satchel McDonald scored eight points in those eight minutes for the Blue Devils.

“We were down by six and they made a little run before halftime,” said Kern. “Possessions like that lost the game for us.”

In the third quarter, Erby’s three-point play cut the margin to eight at 3:12, but Chris Blocker and Andrew Weaver pushed MRH’s lead back up to 15.

Erby, Powells and Skylar Sappington put together a run in the fourth period to cut the lead to seven at 1:33, and Kern called a timeout to plot a comeback. But Blocker’s emphatic dunk with a minute left seemed to end the game.

Will Erby dribbles against Whitfield’s Bryce Berry (left) and Josh Nunn. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Erby got 26 points, four assists and two steals. Powells had 15 points, six assists and three steals. Justice Bratcher contributed eight points, four assists and two blocks. Roland Floyd had seven rebounds.

It’s the most Erby has scored since putting up 34 points against Lift for Life on Jan. 13. In the three games before MRH he shot 32 percent and averaged 9.3 points an outing, well below his team-high average of 18 a game. But at Maplewood he shot 62 percent from the field and made eight of nine free throws.

“Will and Marc knocked down some shots, kept us in the game,” said Kern. “We also had good games from Justice Bratcher, Josh Moreno, Skylar Sappington and Torrie Robinson. We need Marc and Will to put up their points, for our role players to chip in, for Roland Floyd to do his thing inside.”

Marc Powells gets off a shot against Whitfield’s (from left) Collen Frost, Joe Enright and Jocab Ekstrand. Powells led the Eagles with 12 points. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

For MRH, Blocker scored 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting and Weaver and McDonald scored 18 and 15.

“Their leading scorer [McDonald] was back tonight after being gone for about six games,” said Kern. “So they had a full arsenal for the first time this year.”

Maplewood had superior shooting accuracy (56 percent to 35 percent) and a 44-25 rebounding edge, including 22-5 in offensive boards.

Justice Bratcher (right) comes down from a layup with Maplewood’s Tyre Taylor. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Jan. 24: at Brentwood 69, Hancock 48

Brentwood built a 10-point halftime lead then caught fire with a 22-point third period to stay undefeated in the conference.

Powells scored 25 points for the Eagles on 12-of-18 shooting. Robinson scored 10 points and Erby contributed nine points and four assists. Sappington also had four assists and Floyd made four steals.

For Hancock, 4-9, Joe Gillman scored 15 points.

Josh Moreno and a Whitfield player scrambles for a loose ball. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Jack Wright makes it hard for Whitfield’s Justin Chu to score. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Jan. 22: Whitfield 63, at Brentwood 49

Brentwood was on a three-game win streak when Whitfield came to town. Kern saw an opportunity to make it four when Whitfield’s leading scorer and rebounder Dimitri Rucker left the game injured in the first quarter.

The Eagles started to capitalize but couldn’t finish. They led early in the second quarter before the Rucker-less Warriors went on a 16-8 run and led by six at halftime. As the fourth quarter began they led by 11. Erby’s steal and layup closed the gap to eight points at 6:33 but BHS never got closer.

“It looked like Rucker reinjured his knee tonight,” said Kern. “We did not seize the opportunity when he left the game. When he left, they were knocking down threes against our zone so we went to a man defense. But we fouled them too often and they hit their free throws, 12 of 15. They’d get to the basket and once we collapsed they’d kick out and knock down their threes, seven of them.”

Brentwood made only 35 percent of its shots and was outrebounded 34-25.

“It was just bad effort all around on our part,” said Kern. “I don’t think there was one aspect of the game that we played exceptionally well, unless you count the last three minutes when we brought in the third team.”

Powells, Erby and Floyd combined for 32 points. Erby had four steals and four assists. For Whitfield, 11-5, Josh Nunn, Joe Enright and Bryce Berry scored 14, 13 and 12.

Xavier Bratcher tries to get off a shot in Brentwood’s win over Crossroads. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Skylar Sappington dribbles against Whitfield’s Josh Nunn. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Jan. 29: host Trinity (5-8)
Jan. 31: at Valley Park (3-7)
Feb. 3: at Barat (1-13)
Feb. 4: at Bayless (10-5)

Brad Kern tries to get a comeback started against Whitfield. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Everyone in the gym seems mesmerized by Torrie Robinson’s corner jumper against Whitfield. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

South Central AA Conference Standings
As of Jan. 28
Brentwood, 3-0
Bayless, 2-1
Crossroads, 1-1
Valley Park, 1-2
Hancock, 0-3

Freshman Seth Winkleman guards Whitfield’s Ioannis Katrantzis. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

BHS Scores as of Jan. 28
Nov. 22: 77-27 win vs. Construction Careers
Dec. 2: 54-47 loss vs. Confluence at Valley Park
Dec. 4: 40-37 loss vs. Principia at Valley Park
Dec. 5: 73-43 win vs. Crossroads at Valley Park
Dec. 26: 88-50 loss vs. Duchesne at MICDS
Dec. 30: 83-63 loss vs. Lutheran North at MICDS
Jan. 10: 56-50 win vs. Bayless
Jan. 13: 61-54 win vs. Lift for Life
Jan. 17: 52-40 win vs. Crossroads
Jan. 22: 63-49 loss vs. Whitfield
Jan. 24: 69-48 win vs. Hancock
Jan. 28: 68-56 loss vs. Maplewood

Roland Floyd considers a shot against Whitfield’s Dimitri Rucker. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Justice Bratcher drives against Joe Enright of Whitfield. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Marc Powells fights for a loose ball with Whitfield’s Josh Nunn. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
Will Erby (right) and Roland Floyd (left) defend against Whitfield’s Joe Enright (No. 2). (Photo by Steve Bowman)

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