Take away the final two minutes of the third quarter, and the result could have been different Tuesday night in the second opening-round game of the Class 3A Sectional 30.
Having to climb out of a deficit, No. 2 Silver Creek went to its 1-2-2 press and executed it perfectly. That resulted in five turnovers for No. 4 Brownstown and points for the Dragons.
Silver Creek led 39-35 going into the fourth quarter, built a double-digit lead, held off a brief rally by the Braves and won 68-54.
It wound up being a 14-point margin with Silver Creek getting to the free-throw line and going 12 of 14 in the fourth quarter to finish the half 14 of 16. Senior Nick Tinsley was 8 of 9 from the line in the final quarter.
The Braves, meanwhile, didn’t attempt a free throw in that half.
“We just hit a stretch where we turned the ball over five out of six times, and not only were they just turnovers, they led to easy baskets for them,” Braves coach Dave Benter said. “That cost us to have to come out and chase a little bit in the fourth quarter, and Tinsley was phenomenal in the fourth quarter when we had to do that.”
Benter said the Braves expected the 1-2-2 half-court press to come at some point.
“We’ve been working on it in practice,” he said. “But two or three of our turnovers were against just man-to-man half-court. It’s just tough because we really outplayed them 22 out of the first 24 minutes.”
After a first quarter featuring three ties and a pair of lead changes, Brownstown managed a 15-12 edge.
The Braves built their lead to six twice before Carson Lambring made a move to the basket, drew a foul and sank both free throws for a 26-19 lead with 1:45 to go in the half.
Silver Creek’s Jake Steele scored off of an offensive rebound near the 1-minute mark to make it a five-point game at the half.
The Braves were the aggressors in the first 16 minutes of play, working the ball into junior post player Cam Shoemaker, who netted nine points, five rebounds, a steal and a block.
“I thought we played really smart, played with a huge sense of urgency. We were able to get stops in transition,” Benter said. “We just let some opportunities get away on layups and missed open shots. I really felt we could have been up 12 to 15 points at half.”
A basket by Shoemaker at 5:50 of the third quarter put the Braves up 28-23.
But once Silver Creek called a timeout and switched defenses, the Dragons were able to outscore the Braves 16-7 to pull ahead by four heading into the fourth quarter.
From there, the closest Brownstown got was 59-54 on Shoemaker’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2 minutes to go. Silver Creek then iced the game from the line.
The Dragons (21-2) had balance with Tinsley leading all scorers with 20 points, Cameron Cook adding 17, Gabe Bauer contributing 15 and Christian Reed chipping in 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Shoemaker led the Braves (17-4) with 18 points, while Jacoby Shade finished with 14. Both of them pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
Collin DeHart, the Braves’ lone senior, hit a pair of 3-pointers in his final game in a Brownstown uniform.
“First of all, he’s got a great understanding about the game,” Benter said of DeHart. “He’s one of those guys you know is going to show up and be there every day and be disciplined. You know exactly what you’re going to get from him every night.”
Also big about DeHart is that he cares, Benter said.
“The game of basketball and succeeding as a team and being a part of something is something that’s really important to him,” Benter said. “There’s something to be said for that, just his unselfishness and showing up every day with that type of attitude.”
Benter hopes his returning players learned from the loss and will take that as motivation into next season.
“We talked about some of our younger guys’ practice habits and just our focus of understanding how every single possession is because that was just magnified tonight because of that stretch with five turnovers in six possessions,” he said.
“You take that stretch away, and we have the lead going into the fourth quarter, and now all of a sudden, they are playing catchup, and it could have completely changed the outcome of the game,” he added. “It ended up 14 points. This is not a 14-point basketball game.”