Storybook sectional ending for Braves

This hardwood skirmish? It was personal for the 10 Brownstown Central seniors.

You could see it before the warmups, on every face in the Braves’ huddle, between the roar of the full — probably over — capacity crowd.

And you could read it on their faces at the end, when the bench emptied and tears hit the court.

Win or go home, with no in between, for this group that will return just two varsity players in the 2017-18 season.

An entire season on the line, on their fiercest rivals’ home court, for the title that escaped last year’s team: That’s what we love about high school basketball in March.

The mad science experiment with the senior class by coach Dave Benter had worked: the Brownstown Central Braves are sectional champions.

Over the past two seasons, Brownstown and Salem have battled until the end each time they’ve taken to the court.

Before the game’s tip-off, the stage was set.

You couldn’t write a better pregame script.

In last year’s sectional, the Braves — who many presumed would walk through the sectional — were stunned by Salem on a last-second, improbable buzzer-beater.

This season opened for Brownstown at Salem, where the Braves gutted out a 76-73 revenge victory.

That loss didn’t deter a handful of the Lions’ goals, as they won 15 straight games after their loss to the Braves before finishing with 20 regular-season victories — the most ever under coach Hank Weedin, who has served as coach for 17 years.

On the flipside, the Braves also dominated the regular season, winning 21 games, including 19 straight from Nov. 29 to Feb. 10.

Both teams entered with just two losses: only three teams in Class 3A had two or fewer losses on the season entering Monday.

While Salem exited the postseason, there’s no denying that this Mid-Southern Conference rivalry has become one of the best in the area.

The performance I saw the Braves put on in the sectional final was nothing short of superb.

They were firing on all cylinders and never backed down in front of the 3,000-plus fans.

If the Braves can bring the same intensity, and continue playing their game while ignoring the outside noise, they won’t exit the postseason this weekend in regional play.

Hoosier Hysteria is alive and thriving.

Especially right now in Brownstown.

Jordan Morey is sports editor of The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].