The Kenosha Bradford basketball team was able to do something Saturday night that many young hoopers always dream of…they cut down the nets. After a pretty dismal first half, the Devils found themselves chasing 9 at the break looking at a 29-20 deficit to visiting Muskego and climbing a ladder with scissors in hand didn’t seem like much of a possibility. But thankfully for Bradford, they did play a second half, and it was a whole different game with a whole different feel and a WIAA Regional Championship was within reach. The Devils would prevail 52-45 to set up a 3rd meeting with top seed Racine Case. The two conference rivals have split the season series and the rubber match will see a trip to the sectional finals at stake.
But it certainly was not a foregone conclusion that the Devils would even get to the next level of the playoffs after a pretty pedestrian first half at the Bradford Gymnasium. Muskego packed in a pretty tight zone for much of the first half and Bradford had no real answers for penetrating it and sure were not having a lot of luck shooting over it. But in the second half Max Glass began to impose his will down low. Glass and Jashon Lee used their massive bulk and experienced athleticism to help the Devils chip away at the lead and give Bradford a chance down the stretch.
The last 3 minutes would be a see saw battle with each team grabbing the lead and then giving it back. Then with just under 30 seconds left, Muskego was at the line shooting two with a chance for the lead..neither free throw would go in. And on the rebound of the second miss, Glass would be fouled and head to the other end for a 1 and 1. Glass, a very solid free throw shooter, had missed his last two but he stepped up and ripped both throws to put Bradford in the driver’s seat. After another Muskego miss, Da’Quantae Sawyer pretty much iced the game away with two more free throws with 15 seconds and change left.
So that sets up the rubber match with Racine Case on Thursday at Milwaukee South High School with a trip to the Sectional Finals on the line. Understand that Bradford is a senior dominated squad and they only go about 6 or 7 players deep so it is not hard to figure out who is going to have to come to play on Thursday. But those few are athletic as hell and they all can finish at the rim. If the Devils have another gear, I’d hope they find it for the next level of the playoffs. It is never easy to beat a No 1 seed in any playoff but Bradford has already beaten this team once and that has to go a long way in terms of confidence for this already confident bunch. Congrats to Coach Leech, a man who has been getting it done for many many years…you deserve this. And congrats to the Devils, your future awaits.
Special shout out to Bradford AD John P. Ruffolo and Bradford coach and super fan Jonny B Goode for making the evening even more entertaining.