Class 4A No. 11 Floyd Central didn’t show Class 3A No. 1 Brownstown Central any love Tuesday night at the pit.
The Highlanders grinded out a physical game and stuck to the fundamentals, sinking seven of their final eight free throws in the final 1:42, to edge the Braves 61-56 — and handed Brownstown Central their first loss of the 2016-17 season.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
Both teams came out of the gates with high energy and an intense focus on the defensive end of the court.
In the first quarter, the Braves (19-1) and Highlanders (16-3) traded the lead five times.
After four lead exchanges, Braves senior Carson Lambring got his second basket of the night to go and Cody Waskom drained his second 3-pointer to put the Braves up 10-6 with 2:44 on the clock.
Neither team would score again before the second quarter, as the Braves carried the four-point lead.
The Highlanders turned the ball over six times and the Braves had four giveaways in the opening eight minutes.
Lambring accounted for the Braves’ first seven points of the second quarter, but the Highlanders went on a 6-0 run capped by an and-one from Luke Gohmann to lead 18-17 with 3:45 left in the half.
Following a pair of free throws by Floyd’s Trevor Apple, big-men Cody Schrader and Jordan Peters scored from inside to put the Braves back on top at 21-20 with 38 ticks on the clock.
The Braves nursed the single point lead into intermission, with Lambring scoring 11 of the 21 points.
Brownstown Central’s Gavin Bane hit a 3-pointer to open the third quarter and Waskom made a free throw and added a basket to keep the lead at 25-22 two minutes in.
The Highlanders went on another 6-0 run, behind three different scorers, before Peters converted an and-one retied the game at 30-30 at the 3:20-mark.
Lambring got a layup to fall with two seconds left in the third quarter to put the Braves up 35-34 after 24 minutes of play.
Brownstown Central held onto the lead until Gohmann completed an and-one to tie the game at 41-41 with 5:23 left in the game.
The Highlanders then strung together a 6-0 run, all on scores from Cobie Barnes, to go up 48-41.
Lambring stopped the Braves’ bleeding with a layup and Derek Rieckers sank a three to pull the game back within reach, down 50-46 with 2:40 remaining.
Waskom added another trey to cut the deficit to 52-49 at 1:21, and Rieckers got another shot from distance to make the score 59-53 with 11 seconds.
However, the Highlanders hit their free throws to seal the win despite a layup from Lambring at the buzzer.
“I didn’t think we made great decisions,” Braves coach Dave Benter said of the fourth quarter. “We had some timely turnovers and bad shots along with missed block outs.
“This is the first game where I felt like we were hammered on the backboard all year. I think that’s been our strength. They had some second chance opportunities in key times during the fourth quarter.”
Lambring led the Braves with 23 points, Waskom added 10 and Rieckers had nine.
Gohmann topped the Highlanders with 14 points and Gabe Shireman had 13.
On the boards, the Highlanders outrebounded the Braves 33-29. Both teams had 12 turnovers.
Benter said that the team needs to learn from the loss.
“We’ve won five or six games similar to this one down the stretch,” he said. “Sometimes you need that loss for guys to understand that things need to be corrected. I think we need to be a lot more efficient offensively. We missed open guys at times, and Floyd Central is so good defensively that we need to get the ball to the open guy when we get the chance. At times, we stood and watched.’”