Things couldn’t have gone any worse for Trinity Lutheran at the beginning of Saturday night’s game at Brownstown Central.
The Cougars missed their first four shots of the game and had three turnovers in the first three minutes of play.
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Brownstown took advantage of those mistakes to score the first 15 points of the game and rolled to a 91-46 victory.
Carson Lambring got things started for the Braves with a 3-pointer on their first possession. His second 3-pointer put the Braves on top 13-0.
Zach McCory scored on a drive to the basket to make the score 15-0 before Dylan Maschino finally lit up Trinity’s side of the scoreboard with a basket halfway through the quarter.
“We wanted to come out and set the tone early,” Braves coach Dave Benter said. “We feel like we’ve got a lot of scorers so we’ve got to make sure that we’re attacking and not being passive.
“We played well early, and then we called our press off and I thought we lost our mental edge and weren’t as sharp mentally as we were early.
“Give Trinity credit. They were down 19-2 and they fought and clawed their way back into the game. Sometimes it’s real easy for teams to pack it in, but they didn’t. They fought and clawed and I thought our guys weren’t as sharp mentally the rest of the half and the start of the third quarter.”
Cougars coach Aaron Rudzinski said the team was hoping for a better start.
“We talked about getting a quick start, talked about being focused at the beginning. I thought we were ready to play,” Rudzinski said. “When you come out in this environment, against a team like this, you can’t make any mistakes.
“We made some mistakes early and got down quick. Fortunately, we kind of climbed back into the game and got it within striking distance in the second quarter.”
The Braves were on top 19-2 when the Cougars went on a 10-2 rally to make it 21-12 at the end of the quarter.
All five of the Brownstown starters scored in the first period, and Jacoby Shade led the way with nine points.
The Braves stayed hot at the start of the second as Shade and Cam Shoemaker scored two field goals apiece as the Braves increased their lead to 39-24 at the half. The Braves led 34-16 before Trinity outscored the Braves 8-5 over the final 2:45.
“Once we switched our to our half-court trap in the third quarter I thought we kind of got our energy and our mental edge back,” Rudzinski said. “Zach McCory had four straight possessions where he had a deflection or a steal, and that led to some easy baskets and from there on out our ball movement, our aggressiveness on the offensive end was really good.
“Again at halftime we talked about coming out and trying to re-establish momentum, and we did a little bit. We traded baskets, but it went downhill from there. We threw the ball away too many times. The number of turnovers (27) is unacceptable. A lot of it had to do with their pressure speeding us up.”
The teams traded points the first five minutes of the third period as Cody Waskom hit a 3-pointer, and Shade scored six points for the Braves, while Keenan Rebber had six points for the Cougars, plus a free throw by Daniel Horton left the score 50-35 with 3:10 on the clock.
McCory then turned it up on defense with his hustle leading to some of Trinity’s 12 turnovers in the third period. It also enabled the Braves to go on a 15-0 run to take a 65-35 lead into the fourth period.
Shade had an outstanding night shooting the ball as he made all seven of his shots in the second half, 11-for-13 for the night, including a 3-pointer, and he finished with 25 points.
Shoemaker and McCory added 12 points each, Lambring scored 10, and Nierman nine on three 3-pointers as the Braves scored a season-high point total.
The Braves (11-1) shot 32-for-63. Benter said, “We still haven’t shot the ball consistently for a game like I think this team is capable of. There are things defensively that we’ve got to get better at. Up until tonight I thought we had rebounded the ball well. That is one of our strengths when we’re playing the way we need to play.”
Rebber was Trinity’s leading scorer with 21 points. Bobby Tabeling was high rebounder for Trinity (8-6) with 7.