Clutch free throws lead Berkshire to win over Bristol

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BURTON—Berkshire hit five free throws in the final 28 seconds of a 37-30 win over visiting Bristol on Saturday.

With the win, the Badgers improved to 3-0 on the year.

“It was a good team win,” Berkshire coach James Bosley said. “These girls are really buying in and playing for each other. It’s great to watch and great to see.”

Bristol’s Brenna Rimer drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 30-30 with 3:28 left.

Madison Chapman’s layup a minute later gave the Badgers a 32-30 lead.

It remained that way until Grace Lillibridge drained a pair of free throws with 28.6 seconds remaining in the game.

Lexi Boyk added a pair of free throws eight seconds later to increase the Berkshire lead to 36-30 and Lydia Castor closed out the scoring when she hit one of two shots from the charity stripe with nine seconds left to play.

“The free throws were huge,” Bosley said. “We were patient when we got the lead too. Against Newbury the other night, we were still going 100 miles an hour. We were actually able to take our time and set up and run our offense.”

Berkshire led 12-9 after the first quarter then went into the locker room tied with Bristol, 19-19.

The Panthers pressed out of their 1-3-1 defense, which forced the Badgers to adjust their offense to create scoring opportunities.

“The Bristol girls are coached so well,” Bosley said. “They are so disciplined with their skill set. It’s not a traditional 1-3-1; they play passing lanes and try to make you use your dribble first. We were able to use our pass fakes and put them in bad situations and then drive off of our passes. That was huge.”

On the other end, Bosley was forced to alter his lineup after foul trouble sent Bristol’s bigs to the bench.

“We’ve been playing a consistent nine girl rotation, which has helped a lot,” Bosley said. “Some of the girls probably aren’t happy today because they weren’t in but Bristol was in foul trouble with their post on the bench, so they were real guard heavy. I had to try to match that and thankfully it worked for us.”

Berkshire’s defense held the Panthers scoreless for the final three minutes of the game.

“We have really settled in on defense,” Bosley said. “We started the season and we were basing everything on our half-court man-to-man defense. We executed our press a little bit but we’re still working on it. That was effective but we went to a zone late, at the start of the fourth quarter, and that threw them off before Maddy fouled out. She was able to get a lot of steals and was able to get some big buckets to help us get a lead there.”

Boyk led the Badgers with nine points while Lillibridge and Kayla Dingman both finished with seven. Madison Chapman and Mollee Chapman added six and five, respectively, and Courtney Czekaj pitched in with a pair of free throws.

Shae DeLong didn’t score but she contributed by helping to break Bristol’s press.

“We’ve been balanced all year,” Bosley said. “Grace Lillibridge came up huge today. Shae DeLong, she’s kind of a tweener where she’s playing inside and outside, but against a 1-3-1 like that, having her being able to handle the ball with confidence and experience lets us hide a freshman or underclassmen in the corner.”

Berkshire hosts Kirtland on Wednesday in the Chagrin Valley Conference opener for both teams.

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