Lions’ sectional run ends to host Westview, 63-47

TOPEKA — Bremen came on strong at the end of the year, but not strong enough to hold off defending sectional champion Westview on its home floor.
After a 16-15 first quarter start, the Lions fell behind at the 5:32 mark of the second quarter and never recovered the lead as the host Warriors dispatched Bremen 63-47 for a repeat Sectional 35 crown Saturday.
Westview advances to the North Judson Regional next Saturday, when the Warriors play the winner of tonight’s South Adams Sectional championship between Adams Central and Fort Wayne Luers.
“Basketball is important to our community, it always has been since 1966, and it probably will be for a long time to come,” said Westview head coach Rob Yoder. “Our people like to win the sectional, our kids grow up watching other teams cut the nets down, they want to do it themselves, and I’m just happy for our kids that they were able to do it in front of their home crowd.”
The Lions were neck in neck with Westview throughout the first 10 and a half minutes, which featured three ties and 10 lead changes. But after its 6-of-8 start from the field in the opening stanza, Bremen slipped behind 24-18 on a 7-0 run by the Warriors spanning from the 5:32 stop to the 3:27 mark of the second quarter. An 8-0 run comprised of a buzzer-beating Kyle Miller putback at the close of the first half and two straight 3s to open the second half left Bremen trailing by double digits at the 6:35 stop of the third frame, and the Lions never got closer than six points the rest of the way in the season-ending defeat.
“The second quarter I thought a big change, both of our big guys were called for two fouls so they’re sitting down and we’re going deep into the bench and playing four guards,” said Bremen head coach Ryan Eakins. “We’re trying to clog up some of the zone and rebound with four guards on the floor, and that can be difficult at times.”
“I think Bremen was 6 for 8 from the floor in the first quarter, and we might have made some mistakes, but they hit some tough shots too, some contested shots, so give them credit,” said Yoder. “They missed more shots in the second quarter, and then I think Kyle’s putback at the end of the half was really a big momentum boost for us. We have a backdoor going there, we don’t complete the pass, we get it out of bounds, we get fouled, we miss the front end of a one-and-one. That would have been a little bit of a downer for us going into half, but somehow Kyle comes up with an incredible offensive rebound and hits an almost more incredible shot to close it out. I think that’s a big, big momentum play for us.”
Bremen cut Westview’s lead to six at 42-36 with a 5-0 mini-run capped off by a T.J. Bayer steal and assist to junior guard Jacob Box for a transition 3 from the wing, but Westview answered back with a triple from Adrian Brandenburger and another buzzer-beating putback, this time from Devin Aspy, to enter the final frame with a double-digit, 46-36 cushion.
The Lions used a zone press and five unanswered points to cut the Warriors’ lead back down to nine at 52-47, but a reeling Box layup that would have cut the lead to seven and kept Bremen’s momentum rolling was nullified on a called travel, and the Warriors closed out the game 11-0.
“I think more than anything it came down to we had four seniors on the floor at the time, and they realized if they don’t do something in five minutes it’s going to be over,” said Eakins. “It’s not really a schematics thing, it’s just more a matter of guys just having heart and stepping up and realizing that soon it’s going to be over and we’re in a hole and we’ve got to get after it. And they did an outstanding job of playing as hard as they could until it was over.”
Westview was led by Brandenburger’s 18 points and 10 points each from Judah Zickafoose and Brant Yoder.
Bremen was led by Box’s game-high 20 points, while Bayer finished with 11 points after a 4-of-5 start for eight points in the first half.
“Jacob as a player has come so far this year,” Eakins said.”He did not come off the floor in these last few games because he played as well as anyone played in this whole tournament. He played very, very smart. He knocked down some shots, which allowed him to score off the dribble, and when he uses what he has physically and plays smart by taking good shots and minimizing his dribbling by going somewhere, he’s a very, very tough guy to handle on the offensive end.”
The Lions close the season at 8-15 after a surprising run to the sectional final in which the team won its first back-to-back games since winning three straight in early December. It was a strong finish for the Lions in Eakins’ first year as head coach as the squad bid goodbye to seniors Bayer, Ben Hueni, Tim Zimmer, Austin Huff and Mitch Huppert.
“As a program, after a season that we thought could have been more successful with wins and losses, we still got better, and that showed this week,” said Eakins. “This week meant more to this program than the 20 games previous. There are a lot of things that transcend basketball, and winning and losing is not one of them. More than anything, I’m proud of the way we played this week, and these seniors have definitely set the tone for this program going forward. There are five guys sitting in there who are upset, and they were in a very tough situation this year because they’re coming in with their third head coach in four years, and they had to learn everything from square one. They could have very easily said ‘You know what, Coach, I’m sick of it.’ But they had outstanding attitudes, and they got better every day and they showed great leadership, especially this week.”
At Class 2A Sectional 35 championship at Westview
Bremen: 16 24 36 47
Westview: 15 30 46 63
WESTVIEW (63): Jordyn Bontrager 1 0-0 3, Jerry Schwartz 1 0-0 2, Judah Zickafoose 5 0-0 10, Brant Yoder 2 5-6 10, Adrian Brandenberger 6 6-8 18, Kyle Miller 4 0-2 9, Nic Raber 1 1-1 3, Nate Raber 2 0-0 4, Devin Aspy 2 0-0 4, Nick Miller 0 0-0 0, Chandler Aspy 0 0-0 0; Totals: 23 12-17 63.
BREMEN (47): Ben Hueni 2 3-4 7, TJ Bayer 5 1-1 11, Ethan Pike 2 1-2 5, Jacob Box 5 7-8 20, Tim Zimmer 0 0-2 0, Austin Huff 0 0-0 0, Dillon Mullen 0 2-4 2, Mitch Huppert 1 0-0 2; Totals: 15 14-21 47.
3-pointers: Bremen 3 (Box 3), Westview 2 (Yoder, Kyle Miller); Turnovers: Bremen 13, Westview 11; Rebounds: Bremen 17 (Pike 4, Huppert 4); Steals: Bremen 8 (Hueni 2, Bayer 2, Box 2), Westview 7 (Raber 2); Assists: Bremen 4 (Hueni 2), Westview 10 (Yoder 3, Brandenburger 3); Fouls (fouled out): Bremen 20 (Pike), Westview 18 (none).
Records: Westview 20-5, Bremen 8-15 (final)