After beating Washington-Marion High School 52-45 on Tuesday, Feb. 27, in round one of the playoffs, the Brusly High boys basketball team knew they were going to have a tough go of it in the second round against number one seeded Madison Preparatory Academy. They were right. The Panthers fell to Madison Prep 52-34 and missed the chance to get to the Top 28.
The Brusly High gym was packed by fans on both sides.
“My kids knew before tip-off that the atmosphere was going to be pretty festive, and that always helps when you have people screaming for you in the bleachers,” Brusly head coach Kirby Loupe said.
Washington-Marion was the 4A state champion in 2017 and returned the bulk of their team, but Coach Loupe said that he thought his team ended up being the tougher team.
“We talked about that leading up to the game, that being tough was going to be the key. We knew we were going to have to out rebound them, do the tough things, the gritty things,” Loupe said. “We had to make the game as ugly as we needed it to be. They are a flashy team. They like to play up-tempo, not necessarily the most physical team, so we wanted to be very physical.
Loupe said he talked to his team about how important the first three minutes of the game were going to be and also how important the first three minutes of the third quarter would be as well.
“We got out early and we found ourselves up one in the half,” Loupe said. “In the first three minutes of the third quarter, we really separated ourselves and built up an 8-10 point lead and put a little pressure on them.”
Nick Penell led the team in scoring with 17 points.
Friday night’s game didn’t go as well for the Panthers though. Although the winner of the game scored 52 points (the same amount as the winner of the previous game), this time it was Madison Prep who came out on top, in their packed gym with tensions running high all night.
“Madison Prep has set the standard for what other programs want to be -what we want to be. They’re a perennial state champion,” Coach Loupe said. “We knew going into their place that it was going to be hostile.”
Loupe said that he knew that his team needed to focus on the exact same elements they focused on against Washington-Marion. They needed to be the tougher team. They needed to be gritty. They needed the game to be “a little ugly” to give Brusly a chance.
“Madison Prep is a team that scored 97 points in their first playoff game and scored 80-something in the 2nd game, We needed to hold them to 50 or 60 pints in our game, which we did,” Loupe said. “ We struggled offensively though. We struggled to handle the ball. We had a lot of turnovers.”
Loupe said that despite the loss, he gives all credit to Coach Jeff Jones and his Madison Prep kids.
“They were prepared,” Loupe said. “Their senior guards against our younger guards was a difference in that game.”
Loupe said he is proud of his team and the season they had and is taking the loss to Madison Prep as a chance to show the team where they need to be going in the off season.
“Getting stronger, getting quicker, these are things we need to work on,” Loupe said. “Getting more physical because when you are going to get into those game to try to get into the Top 28, you are looking at teams who are exactly that. Last year, Wassman was tougher than us. This year, Madison Prep was just tougher than us, quicker than us. It’s things like this we need to take into consideration because if we want to find ourselves in the same place next year, we need to put these things in the back of our heads and really grind in the offseason because we really have something to prove.”
Although he will be losing a few senior players, he will be returning many of the younger players who made a huge impact on the team’s success.
“Guys that really led our team offensively and defensively are coming back,” Coach Loupe said You know that feeling really hurt a bit with our guys in the locker room after the loss, and I believe that is a good thing because to get to the place where we want to be as a program, we need to put that memory at the back of our minds and continue to remind ourselves in the offseason that this is where we want to be.”