BRIDGMAN — Buchanan started Wednesday’s Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference competitive cheer jamboree with a 10-point deficit and finished less than a point ahead.

The Bucks’ score of 595.6 edged second-place Parchment’s 594.9. Buchanan had just five athletes competing, and knew it would be assessed a 10-point penalty in round two due to the low numbers.

Buchanan coach Shannon Blackwell said that the Bucks lost a few key members in recent weeks, but she’s been happy with how her team has persevered.

“We knew it was going to be close,” Blackwell said. “We’ve had a few bombs that have been thrown on us the past few weeks, but the girls have really pulled together.

“They’ve become more of a team. It seems like the more hardship that comes their way, the closer they get. They tackle every obstacle that comes their way, and as a coach that’s all you can ask for.”

Berrien Springs finished third with a score of 588.22, followed by Lake Michigan Catholic (574.7), Bridgman (535.48) and Comstock (489.6).

The win gives Buchanan an edge in the race for the BCS title. The Bucks will host the second of three conference jamborees next Wednesday before the conference finals at Berrien Springs.

“We’d love to win conference,” Blackwell said. “We won it two years ago. We want it back, but we’ve got some stiff competition.”

Berrien Springs was hurt by 22 penalty points in the first round. The Shamrocks also took a six-point penalty in the third round for going two seconds over their allotted time.

“We had some big mistakes in round one, and we put ourselves in the hole pretty bad,” Berrien Springs coach Laurie White said. “I’m pretty proud of how hard they fought.

“We had to dig. I’m really proud of my round two girls, they went out and really hit their skills.”

Berrien Springs is the defending BCS champion.

“We want that title back,” White said. “We’re going to go home and work really hard and get ready for next Wednesday so we can get rid of those mental mistakes and hopefully come out on top.”

Lake Michigan Catholic’s lineup consisted of five sophomores, a freshman, and one senior in her first year on the team.

“Given their age right now, our biggest thing is confidence,” Catholic coach Josh Fairbanks said. “We could easily be the most athletic, talented team on the mat, but right now our confidence level is just not where it needs to be at. That just comes with maturity and getting a competitive edge.”

Fairbanks also said he was surprised by the scores across the board.

“All the coaches today would tell you that the officials, for whatever reason, were really hard, especially in round two,” Fairbanks said. “For nobody in our conference to top 600, I don’t know if you would find a conference meet since the BCS started where that happened.”

Bridgman is in just its second season with a competitive cheer program, and coach Heather Steinbrook has been pleased with the Bees’ progress.

“Our scores have been very good compared to what we did last year for our first year,” Steinbrook said. “I feel that we did very well even though we came in fifth place because we were up against some very tough competition.

“We’re just hoping year by year to get better and better and to improve our scores — not necessarily come in first place in every competition, but as long as we’re improving our scores, that’s all I ask for.” 

BCS Competitive Cheer jamboree

Team scores — 1. Buchanan 595.6, 2. Parchment 594.9, 3. Berrien Springs 588.22, 4. Lake Michigan Catholic 574.7, 5. Bridgman 535.48, 6. Comstock 489.6.

Round 1 — Parchment 194.3, Buchanan 191.3, LM Catholic 188.5, Comstock 179.5, Bridgman 175.5, Berrien Springs 188.1 (-22).

Round 2 — Berrien Springs 166.72, Parchment 152.7, LM Catholic 148.6, Buchanan 153.0 (-10), Bridgman 142.98, Comstock 130.9 (-8).

Round 3 — Buchanan 261.3, Berrien Springs 261.4 (-6), Parchment 247.9, LM Catholic 237.6, Bridgman 217.0, Comstock 219.2 (-32).

Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 932-0366, @HPBenSanders