STORY BY CORY WOODROOF | PHOTOS BY WHITNEY JARRELD
Sometimes, it takes every second to get the win.
For the Brentwood Bruins, a key defensive stop with seconds to go in overtime kept the visiting Nolensville Knights from walking away with upset win. Instead, the home team took the defensive bout 44-43.
“What a physical grind; it was a tough game,” Bruins head coach Greg Shirley said. “I think Nolensville has a chance to be really, really good.”
Shirley commended the response his team gave after being down at half.
“[The win] shows a lot of senior leadership,” he said. “I’ve got seven seniors on the team, and for them to come back in the second half and just grind out a win…we’ve had some games where we’ve scored a lot of points, and we’ve had a game like here where we’ve just had to really rely on our defense. I think defense wins championships.”
The Bruins played from behind for most of the game as Nolensville crashed the party with stout scoring and defense (up 29-20 at half), but college prospect and shooting forward Nate Bloedorn encountered foul trouble down the stretch that changed the scheme philosophy for the Knights.
They struggled to get shots in against the Bruins’ length, with the 6’7″ Bloedorn the team’s key with defending and rebounding.
From then on, Brentwood found its groove offensively and outscored the visitors 12-5 in the third quarter of play.
The low-scoring fourth saw the Bruins nearly escape with the win then, but Reese Gilbert’s last-second three helped settle the score at 40 and send both squads to overtime. Gilbert led the Knights with 13 on the night.
From then on, it was a matter of a few buckets to keep the Bruins undefeated at home on the early season.
The Knights got the possession with just seconds to go, but Brentwood got just enough pressure on the throw-in to draw up a hasty shot and seal the victory.
Ben Mills paced the Bruins with 13 points, while Jack Thurman had 11.
“We just regrouped in the locker room,” Mills said of what sparked the Bruins’ second-half surge. “We just wanted to come out and attack them. We were kind of hanging back, so we wanted to attack the middle.”
Brentwood will next face rival Franklin on the road for the season’s first district bout, while Nolensville is set to host Summit.
Nolensville reflects on battle as Bloedorn honors await
Even in a loss, you can still find positives. That’s exactly what Nolensville can do after such a close defeat.
“Our guys are learning how to finish games, learning how to react in those late-game situations,” head coach Wes Lambert said. “Whether it’s Brentwood, or a non-rivaled school, these games are only going to help us.”
While the Knights couldn’t quite capture a victory Tuesday night, they’ll celebrate a victor Friday, regardless of the outcome.
Bloedorn recently etched in his 1,000th point as a Knight, the school’s first basketball player to make the mark.
They’ll present him with a ball and recognize his honor during the team’s home bout with Summit at the week’s close.
Lambert spoke to what Bloedorn has meant to the team in his time there.
“He’s an unbelievable kid, both on the court and off,” he said of his standout forward. “He’s number one in his class academically, he’s a leader by example on the court, he does everything you ask, he’s a yes sir, no sir guy.
“It’s neat to see someone like him hit a milestone like that.”