By Brendan Samuels

NILES – Hart’s girls basketball team started 2024 out with a tough road trip, going to the southern border of Michigan to take on No. 10 ranked Niles-Brandywine on Tuesday.

The Pirates fell to the Bobcats 62-52 in a game that was much closer than the final score reflected.

An up-tempo first quarter set the tone for the game as each team exchanged baskets. Up by two points with 30 seconds remaining in that initial frame, Hart held for the final shot. Junior Addi Hovey drove toward the rim, opting for a kick out pass to freshman Rilynn Porter beyond 3-point range rather than take the shot herself. Porter nailed the shot, leaving Hart on top by five.

Brandywine went into its pressure defense in the second quarter and forced the Pirates into mistakes. That resulted in just six points scored for Hart and allowed the Bobcats to jump in front, 28-24.

Hart senior Abby Hicks went on a 7-0 run to start the third quarter which propelled Hart in front 46-44. Timely shots in the fourth quarter put Brandywine on top and forced the Pirates to foul and push the game to a 10-point deficit for Hart.

“Although we didn’t get the win tonight, I am very pleased,” Hart coach Travis Rosema said. “We played with great energy, gave great effort and fought adversity. Playing games like this only helps us get better.”

A battle of WMC Rivers heavyweights is on tap next for Hart (3-2, 2-0 WMC Rivers) as they will host Mason County Central (5-0, 2-0 WMC Rivers) on Thursday.