For The Tribune
With junior point guard Zach McCory out with an ankle injury, it was obvious that the Brownstown Central boys basketball team was missing its usual creativity when it came to running its offense.
Even so, the Braves made a huge run at host Columbus East on Thursday before falling 60-53 in a nonconference game against a Class 4A opponent.
Brownstown Central, which fell to 15-3, knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half, including four by junior wing Jacoby Shade to hold a 27-26 lead at halftime.
But when those shots didn’t fall in the second half, the Braves never got into a solid offensive rhythm.
“Zach is our second leading scorer and our leading assist guy,” said Brownstown Central coach Dave Benter, who is hoping to get McCory back after another week’s recovery. “He does so many things for us and we had a difficult time running our offense.”
Although the Braves had a hard time adjusting, they still had a shot to win against an Olympians squad which raised its record to 11-8 after its third consecutive victory.
When East forward Kevin Williams, who led his team with 15 points, scored his third consecutive basket of the fourth quarter, the Braves trailed 50-38 with only five minutes left.
That’s when the Braves made their charge using a full-court pressure that rattled the host team.
Those turnovers led to back-to-back 3-pointers from junior guard Matthew Nierman, who turned the second one into a four-point play when he was fouled on the shot.
When Brownstown Central’s Collin DeHart dropped a bucket to complete a 10-0 run, the Braves trailed just 50-47.
But the Braves never could crack the 3-point barrier the rest of the way as East made most of the big plays down the stretch.
“I did think our guys competed and played hard,” Benter said. “We turned them over with our press late, and we had our chances. I told our guys we have to make plays late.”
Columbus East coach Brent Chitty thought his team was fortunate to win.
“That was an incredibly talented team that is very well-coached,” Chitty said. “They didn’t have their regular starting point guard tonight, and that hurt them. But I am extremely proud of our guys. We found a way to win.”
The Braves, who are ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, made only two 3-pointers in the second half, and Shade didn’t score in the final 16 minutes.
Junior forward Cam Shoemaker led the Braves with 19 points while Matthew Nierman added 10.
Senior forward Connor Umphress and junior guard Parker Chitty both scored 14 points for Columbus East.
Benter said his team will have to play better while McCory is out.
“It’s next man up,” he said. “We have high expectations for our young guys here. If they aren’t doing well, they are going to hear it.”