CUSTER — The tall timber in the paint cast a large shadow over the Mason County Eastern girls basketball team in Wednesday night’s Western Michigan D League encounter with Brethren in Custer.

Eastern simply couldn’t solve the problem Brethren’s height inside presented, and the Bobcats used that advantage to come away with a 35-24 win.

Worse still, that deadly combination came in the form of sophomores Madelyn Miller and Elliana Sexton. Which only means they will be around for awhile.

The Cardinals saw their record dip to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the WMD.

As is typically the case in close games, the Cardinals never were out of the game, but any potential scoring runs never materialized because the shots wouldn’t fall.

“We didn’t make the shots when we needed to,” Eastern head coach Jacob Smith said. “We lost, but we were right there. We probably were out-played about two minutes in the game. We just didn’t execute.”

Brethren improved to 3-1 both overall and in the conference with the win, and gave the Cardinals fits with a defense that made a statement early with its aggressive play.

Eastern’s defense wasn’t too shabby, either, and that kept the scoring low in the first quarter, which ended with the Bobcats holding an 8-2 lead.

The Cardinals outscored the Bobcats, 11-9 in the second quarter and shaved two points off their deficit, going into the half trailing only 17-13.

Brethren, however, blitzed the Cardinals again in the third quarter with a 13-3 scoring advantage and opened up a 30-16 lead to take into the final period.

Corrinna Hernandez scored 11 points and hauled down nine rebounds to lead the Cardinals. Deanna Codman contributed six points.

Lucy Shoup, Hilary Howe and Claudia Fuster Garcia helped lead the defensive charge for the Cardinals with four steals apiece.

The Cardinals hit the road Friday night for another WMD game at Mesick.