Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – On a night when nothing came easy on offense for either team West Branch gave itself an opportunity to take down a top-10 team.
The Bears came up one shot shy of the upset.
Brady Knoop got a clean look at a three-pointer from the wing at the buzzer but couldn’t connect as a late West Branch rally came up short in a 40-38 loss to Class 2A ninth-ranked Camanche on Tuesday in West Branch.
“Our kids bought in on the defensive end and really grinded it out there,” West Branch coach Jason Kern said. “If we get a couple more open shots to fall it goes our way, we never had any quit in these guys tonight and we played until the final buzzer.”
West Branch trailed by as many as 10 in the fourth quarter and was down nine with under two minutes to play before mounting a late rally.
The Bears held Northeast without a field goal for the final 6:07 of the game and scoreless over the final 1:42 while pulling to within two on a driving layup by Holden Arnaman with 13 seconds left.
West Branch had a chance to complete the comeback when Garrett Shultz missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Arnaman found an open Knoop with a cross court pass with just a few seconds left but the senior who had four three-pointers and a game-high 16 points couldn’t get his final shot to fall.
“It was a heck of a job, I am super proud of our kids defensively,” Kern said. “If you would have showed me the stats before the game, 7-of-27 from 3, 4-of-9 from the free throw line, 13 turnovers I would have thought we got beat by 25 or 30. Our guys are really starting to buy in on the defensive end and we knew our zone would work we just had to fly around and use our athleticism.”
West Branch dropped to 4-4 on the season and in RVC play with the loss while Camanche improved to 7-0 on the year and in RVC action.
The Storm got 13 points from junior Zane Witt and 10 from senior Adan Dunlap but couldn’t pull away from West Branch.
The Bears trailed 38-28 with under six minutes to play but Arnaman scored five unanswered points and a Knoop three-pointer cut the lead to 40-36 with 52 seconds left.
West Branch force Camanche into eight turnovers in the fourth quarter and 19 in the game while holding the Storm to a season-low 40 points.
“Defensively we were unreal,” Kern said. “To hold a Camanche team to 40 that doesn’t happen very often.”
West Branch had an equally hard time finding its footing offensively.
The Bears were just 7-of-25 from three-point range and shot 33 percent from the field and had 17 turnovers of their own.
Still, West Branch had a shot against an unbeaten, top-10 team.
Arnaman finished with 10 points to join Knoop in double figures while andy Henson had seven and sophomore Reese Trepanier had a team-high six rebounds.
“It’s only game eight and I told our guys we want to be playing our best basketball come March,” Kern said. “So hopefully we can improve one percent every day and get to our peak at the end of year here.”
Camanche 15 2 16 7 – 40
West Branch 10 5 11 12 – 38
Camanche (40) – Adam Dunlap 3-9 2-2 10, Garrett Schultz 2-3 0-1 5, Tucker Dickherber 2-3 0-1 5, Demarion Honaker 0-3 1-2 1, Zane Witt 6-9 1-2 13, Michael Delzell 2-7 0-1 6, Totals 15-34 4-9 40.
West Branch (38) – Peyton Miller 1-8 0-2 3, Holden Arnaman 3-7 3-5 10, Brady Knoop 6-12 0-0 16, Thomas Gould 0-3 0-0 0, Andy Henson 2-5 0-0 7, Drake Berry 0-2 0-0 0, Reese Trepanier 1-3 0-0 2, Totals 13-40 5-9 38.
3-point field goals – WB 7-25 (Miller 1-6, Arnaman 1-4, Knoop 4-9, Gould 0-3, Henson 1-3), CAM 6-12 (Dunlap 2-4, Schultz 1-2, Dickherber 1-2, Delzell 2-4). Rebounds – WB 25 (Trepanier 6), CAM 26 (Witt 7). Turnovers – WB 17, CAM 19. Total fouls – WB 14, CAM 12. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.