STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTO BY WHITNEY JARRELD
A bloody scratch sounds like a minor problem, but it had a major impact in Brentwood’s win at Nolensville.
Nate Bloedorn, the Knights’ leading scorer with 24 points, was forced to exit Saturday night’s game for about five possessions during a crucial stretch in the fourth quarter.
Brentwood took advantage of his absence by rallying for a 50-43 win over Nolensville while a trainer put a sleeve on his forearm.
A safety rule forces players to leave the game whenever they start bleeding.
“Obviously, when you take that talented of a player off the floor, they’re not going to be the same, especially when he’s such a physical presence inside,” Brentwood coach Greg Shirley said. “Nate is such a handful. He seems like a first-class young man and had a very good game.”
Bloedorn gave Nolensville (6-6) a 39-37 lead with the first basket of the fourth quarter, but Brentwood (12-2) rallied with a 7-0 run and led the rest of the way.
Bloedorn, a 6-foot-7 forward who ranks No. 1 academically in Nolensville’s senior class, blocked four shots, grabbed five rebounds and went 9 of 15 from the floor.
“I was cut in, like, five different places, and it took me out in a pretty important time,” Bloedorn said. “Right at the end we had a few mental mistakes that cost us big time. If we could have corrected it, that would have been the difference.”
Army and Belmont have shown interest in Bloedorn, who has an offer from Missouri Western.
“It’s hard because we didn’t know where the blood was coming from and it just kept getting on him,” Knights coach Wes Lambert said. “It’s tough because you have to sub him out and Nate was dominating tonight. There were probably two or three minutes of play where we didn’t have him and that’s tough when he’s our workhorse.”
Jack Thurman, a 6-3 guard, led the Bruins with 15 points and Ben Mills added 13.
Brentwood swept two games with Nolensville, including a 44-43 overtime win one month ago.
“I think our experience really carried us,” said Mills, a 6-7 senior forward. “We’re used to adversity. The last time we played them it was really close and then (Bloedorn) went out with foul trouble and that’s when we really stepped on it. He’s a very smart player as well as big. He knows how to draw fouls, that’s for sure. He’s a great player.”
Brentwood extended its win streak to seven on the strength of its tenacious man-to-man defense.
“We’re a very long and athletic team,” Mills said. “When we buckle down and do our job on defense, there’s nobody that can beat us. Just grit and grind, really – Memphis Grizzlies formula. It must be frustrating for teams when they drive in and all these giants are on top of them.”
Harry Lackey, a 6-6 junior, is also a strong defensive presence for the Bruins. Opponents are averaging just 42.7 points against Brentwood.
“We’re one of the top four or five in the stare as far as defensive scoring average,” said Shirley, whose team gave him a win on his birthday. “Defense is all will, just a matter of desire and it shows a lot about the character of our team.”
Lambert said Brentwood’s size makes it difficult for offenses.
“They’re just long and active,” Lambert said. “They do a good job of keeping it at half court and making you work for every bucket you have to get.”
Nolensville has lost five of its last six against a difficult schedule.
“We want our non-district schedule to be as hard it can be,” said Lambert, who is missing two injured starters from last season’s Class AA sectional team. “We’ve had six games that have been a one- or two-possession game late in the fourth quarter, so that’s only going to help us in the long run. Unfortunately, we’ve only won two of those six.”
Brentwood plays LaVergne in the first round of Father Ryan Christmas Tournament on Thursday.
Nolensville faces Cane Ridge in the first round of the Middle Tennessee Invitational at Franklin on Thursday.