After turnovers and missed free throws led to his team being down by 12 points to Braden River High halfway through the third quarter, Bayshore High head coach Dwight Gilmer had a stern message for his team during a timeout.
“I was just telling them to play harder and keep fighting,” Gilmer said with a grin moments after the game. “And I told them this was all about heart and all about hustle.”
The Bruins responded quickly to Gilmer's challenge. They cut the Pirates lead down to two points, then completely flipped the script by forcing turnovers and hitting several free throws in the final seconds in a comeback 47-46 victory in front of a noisy crowd at the Jan C. Brady Gymnasium.
Bayshore missed its first five free throws and committed four turnovers in the first quarter. Brock Fletcher’s three-pointer cut the Braden River lead to 13-11 before another rash of Bruin turnovers and missed free throws allowed the Pirates to pull away.
The end of the first half proved to foreshadow things to come as Legend Ray converted on some free throws for Bayshore, which trailed 25-18 at the break.
“We missed a bunch of layups, we committed a bunch of turnovers and we had trouble at the line,” Gilmer said. “We just had to settle down. We knew that if we could turn up our defensive pressure and covert our opportunities we would be okay.”
Braden River’s Kamron Brooks opened the second half with a three-pointer and a jumper over the Bayshore defense. The Pirates scored on four of their first five posessions, forcing Gilmer to call a timeout that changed the complexion of the game.
Jaemaal Newson brought the Bruins back in a hurry, hitting a pair of threes that cut the Pirate lead to just two. Bayshore later took its first lead of the game on a putback by Bryce Brewer early in the fourth quarter.
Buckets by Drevian Mays put the Pirates back out front until Newson drained another three and Ray converted a steal into a layup with two minutes left. The game turned into a battle from the charity stripe from there, with Brewer sinking a pair of free throws with the crowd chanting his name in the background.
D’Angelo Antonio’s putback with 20 seconds gave Braden River a one-point lead with 20 seconds to play. Newson, who finished with a game-high 23 points, went to the line again with seven seconds left and hit both free throws to give Bayshore the lead for the final time.
“We tried to make it a rag-tag type of game and stepped things up defensively,” Gilmer said. “We did that, and pulled it out at the end. Our guys fought really, really hard for that one.”
Kamron Brooks led Braden River with 13 points.
“I thought we got into some early foul trouble and that affected some of our rotations and what we wanted to do,” Braden River head coach Jason Mickan said. “We just have to execute a little better down the stretch. I’d rather something like this happen early in the season so we have the opportunity to learn from it.”
Braden River (3-1) will play Saint Stephen’s on Saturday. Bayshore (2-2) will play at Gibbs next Tuesday.