Regional ready: Braves seniors look to keep season going

With a sectional championship trophy in hand from Salem, their journey now extends to the Hatchet House in Washington.

Brownstown Central (24-2) will take on Evansville Bosse (18-7) at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday in the semifinals of the boys’ Class 3A Washington Regional.

Should they emerge victorious, they Braves play the winner of the early game, between Pike Central and Greensburg, in the championship later that night.

It’s the Braves’ first regional appearance since the 2012-13 season.

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Brownstown Central won regional titles in the 1930-31, 2003-04 and 2008-09 seasons. The regional championships after the turn of the century were in Class 2A.

Under coach Dave Benter, who is in his 19th year at the helm, the Braves have now advanced to the regional eight times.

Benter has a coaching record of 6-5 in regional games.

In the regular season, Bosse played a stacked scheduled that featured 12 game against Class 4A schools: including the likes of New Albany, Castle, Logansport and East Chicago Central.

Bosse boasts one of the most lethal offenses in the state.

The Bulldogs average 78.24 points per game — the second most in Class 3A and fourth in all classes. They give up 63.9 points per game

They’re led by by 5-foot-8, 138-pound junior Mekhi Lairy. Lairy has amassed 538 points this season for 21.5 points per game.

In last week’s Sectional 32 final in Boonville, Lairy dropped 24 points in a 86-54 victory against Mt. Vernon.

The guard isn’t limited to shooting.

Lairy, who averages 8.1 assists per game, has 203 dimes this season — ranked 18th in the nation, according to

“I think their point guard (Lairy) is one of the top-five juniors in the state,” Braves coach Dave Benter said. “He kind of makes them go. They also have a lot of good guards with him. Their front line is physical, athletic and rebound the ball really well. They have four or five guys they can keep running at you. I think their best two attributes, outside of scoring, are their defensive pressure and rebounding.”

The Bulldogs average 35.1 rebounds, 7.9 steals and 5.5 blocks per game as a team.

Bosse has seven players on their roster with over 100 points on the season, and four exceeding 200 points.

They have length, too, with nine players on the roster standing taller than 6-2, including five above 6-5.

“They’re long and athletic,” Braves senior Derek Rieckers said. “We have a few guys that can match that in the post. I’m guessing they will want to push it and speed up the game. We’re going to watch film on them and go from there.”

The Braves and Bulldogs have one common opponent on the season: Evansville Reitz.

Brownstown Central bested Reitz 106-104 in four overtimes at the Graber Post Buildings Tournament during the holidays while Bosse beat Reitz 93-68 to conclude the regular season.

Coming off one of their best games of the season, the Braves look to keep the energy up after Monday’s 78-58 win against Salem.

“Almost everything,” Braves senior Ty Maxie said when asked what he hopes carries over to regional. “We just want fewer turnovers. I’m hoping we can keep up our defensive energy from last game. I hope we shoot the ball just as well.”

In that game, the Braves opened the game by scoring on their first eight possessions.

Carson Lambring dropped a game-high 28 points and fellow senior Cody Waskom added 24.

Of all the things he saw on the court, one of the facets Benter liked most was the composure from the team start to finish.

“I thought our poise was really good,” Benter said. “We played really smart, took care of the ball and won the 50-50 battle.

“Those are important keys against Bosse. We want to come down, get a good shot every time, and rebound the basketball. They will half court trap us some and we will be ready for that. Hopefully that can open some shots for our perimeter guys. ”

Against Salem, the Braves hit 12 3-pointers on 12-for-25 shooting.

Overall, the Braves shot 53.7 percent on 54 shot attempts.

The Braves will watch film on Pike Central (14-11) and Greensburg (17-6), but aren’t looking past Bosse.

Benter said that he’s confident the team will respond well to playing a second game in the same day, should they advance, after seeing the team’s energy at the end of the Salem game.

For the 10 Brownstown Central seniors, it’s go big or go home.

“Our season could end at any time,” Rieckers said. “Many of us aren’t going on to the next level. It could potentially be our last game together. There is a sense of urgency to get things done. None of us want to be done yet.”

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What: Class 3A Washington Regional

Who: Brownstown Central’s boys basketball team

Where: Washington High School

When: Saturday. Pike Central vs. Greensburg at 10 a.m., Brownstown Central vs. Evansville Bosse at 11:30 a.m., Championship at 8 p.m.

Cost: $7 per session, $10 both sessions.