Bruins shake off rust in opener at Manhattan Tourney

Ryan Peerboom — Enterprise Staff Writer
Monday, December 16, 2019
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Enterprise photos by Ryan Peerboom

Miya Ross (20) plays defense against a Townsend ballhandler on Friday at Manhattan Christian School.

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Jackson Bredenberg takes a running layup.

The Gardiner Bruins kicked off their basketball season against the Townsend Bulldogs on Friday during the Manhattan Tip-off Tournament at Manhattan Christian School.



The Bruins battled through the usual early season mistakes on Friday to pick up a close, 48-46 win over the Bulldogs.

Both teams struggled to get on the board early, but the Bruins struck first with a Luke Stermitz layup off a feed from Colter Long a minute and a half into the game. The Bruins held the Bulldogs off the board for nearly three minutes, until they finally broke through and got on the board with a 2-pointer.

Townsend was able to get consecutive shots to fall and jumped out to an early lead. Gardiner’s Jackson Bredenberg answered with a muchneeded 3-pointer to cut the lead to two before a well-placed pass from Elijah Byrd to Stermitz on a driveand-dish tied the score at 9 before the first quarter ended.

The Bruins found a rhythm in the second quarter as shots started falling with greater efficiency. Gardiner couldn’t gain much separation until a Byrd 3-pointer with 1:44 remaining in the half gave the Bruins a lead and a Stermitz layup in transition extended the Gardiner lead to five before the half, 22-17.

Townsend strung together a few buckets to match the Bruins and eventually tie the game at 27, before the Bulldogs hit a 3-pointer to take a 30-27 lead with 2:45 left in the third.

A bad pass on the next Gardiner possession turned into points for the Bulldogs and forced a timeout from the Bruins down five, 32-37.

The Bruins were eventually able to tie the score at 38 in the fourth on a transition layup from Stermitz with 3:33 left in the game which forced the Bulldogs to call a timeout.

Another 3-pointer out of the timeout gave Townsend a 41-38 lead.

Stermitz cut the lead down to one with another layup and, after a defensive stop, Bredenberg was fouled while shooting a 3 and nailed all three free throws to take a 43-41 lead.

Townsend tied the game at 43 before Stermitz nailed a clutch 3-pointer to extend the lead and give the Bruins the win.

Stermitz led all scorers with 18 points on 8 of 17 shooting and added six rebounds. Bredenberg had 14 points and four rebounds. Byrd had six points and six rebounds while dishing out four assists. Taylor Rose added six points and led both teams with 11 rebounds.

Stermitz said he was proud of the team’s composure down the stretch, something he said the Bruins struggled with last season.

“I think, last year, a big thing that we lacked was composure,” he said. “I think that we proved towards the end of the game here that we had good composure and we were just going to stick it out no matter what it takes.”

Gardiner head coach Brad Harbach said he was happy with his team’s leadership and their effort despite the normal early season mistakes.

“The senior leadership was certainly evident there tonight,” Harbach said. “First game, there were some jitters out there, you could tell, we were sloppy. It’s a work-in-progress but we really gave a good effort and I really value that from the boys.”

The Bruins followed the win with a tightly-contested, 41-37 loss to Manhattan at Manhattan High School on Saturday.

Harbach said the Bruins couldn’t quite recover from a tough third quarter.

“We were down three at halftime but had trouble scoring in the third quarter and found ourselves down by 14 going into the fourth quarter,” he said. “I was proud of the resilience our team showed in closing the gap to four with about two minutes left in the game but we were unable to get closer as we let a few scoring opportunities slip by us.”



The Lady Bruins continued to battle after a slow first half and were able to hang tough with the Bulldogs, eventually falling 44-31.

Townsend jumped out to a 7-2 lead early before expanding that lead to 15-5.

The Lady Bruins cut into the lead with a 3-pointer from Josie Thomas and trailed by eight, 16-8, at the end of the first quarter.

Townsend started the second quarter on an 8-2 run to extend their lead to 14 at 24-10. A Kyndra long layup cut the lead to 12, but the Bulldogs found another small groove before the end of the half, extending their lead to 20, 32-12, when the buzzer sounded.

The Lady Bruins began the second half with a new energy, finally settling in and shaking off the firstgame rust. Gardiner played better team basketball and settled in as they slowly worked to dig into the Townsend lead.

Gardiner cut the lead down to 16, 38-22, by the end of the third quarter. By the end of the game, the Lady Bruins had chopped the lead to 13, 44-31.

Gardiner’s second half momentum shift was evident as the Lady Bruins outscored the Bulldogs 19-12 in the second half.

Freshman Sophia Darr led the Lady Bruins with 12 points. Long added six points and Thomas had five. Bailey Fuhrmann had four points to go along with her teamhigh eight rebounds.

Lady Bruins head coach Schalene Darr said she felt her team got a bit ahead of themselves early in the game.

“I just think they were trying to go too fast,” Darr said. “(We were) not looking and seeing what their options were. The jitters were definitely there.”

Long also felt the unnecessary rush from Gardiner early, but felt the improvement in the second half.

“We just got really scared with the ball and didn’t know what to do with it and tried to rush our plays,” she said. “We just need to calm down and chill and that definitely got better within the second half.”

Darr said a switch to zone defense in the second half helped her team feel more comfortable.

“They just seem to feel a little more comfortable in that zone,” she said. “I think they feel a little bit more like everybody’s got their back.”

Darr said she expected to see some of the first-game mistakes.

“There’s just a lot of things to continue to work on and in the first game of the season you’ve got to get out there and expect to have those things happen,” she said.

She added that there were positives to take away from the game in addition to some things they need to improve on moving forward.

“I saw our kids doing a lot of really good things too,” she said. “We were aggressive getting on the floor. But we weren’t cutting to the basket as hard as we probably should have.”

Against Manhattan on Saturday the Lady Bruins lost to Manhattan 74-46.

The Lady Bruins came out strong to take a 17-11 lead in the first quarter. Manhattan answered back in the second, outscoring Gardiner 24-11 to take a lead to the locker room at halftime.

Gardiner couldn’t keep up with Manhattan in the second half, Darr said.

“(We) just didn’t have the wheels to apply enough pressure to get stops to close the gap,” she said.