At this year’s shootout, if you didn’t have Brownstown Central etched across your jersey you weren’t a tournament champion.
The Braves’ varsity and junior varsity boys basketball teams both left Salem High School as champions over the weekend.
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On Sunday, the Braves blasted North Harrison 87-55 before beating CAI 66-55 in the semifinals. In the finals, the Braves built a 40-18 lead by halftime before topping Scottsburg 80-52.
Brownstown’s varsity went 2-1 on Saturday in pool play. The Braves topped Trinity Lutheran and Christian Academy of Indiana, but fell to Lanesville to open the tournament.
In this year’s shootout, the Braves came in under much different situation.
The Braves had to replace 10 seniors in the summer of 2017 after making a regional run.
Many of those players hadn’t stepped on a court for a varsity minute.
All of the players on this year’s summer roster played some varsity minutes last winter.
The biggest difference for the Braves this past weekend was the offensive efficiency.
“Offensively, we’re way ahead of where we were last year,” Braves coach Dave Benter said. “I thought (Sunday) our ball movement and spacing was the best it has been all summer. We shot the ball really well in the first and third games. Last year, we were so far behind. We had to win several games this year defensively and make plays don’t he line to win games.
The Braves averaged 54.8 points per game this past winter after averaging at least 71 the previous two seasons. The Braves’ defensive vaverage was 48.7 points.
“We talked about, to take the next step, we need to become a much better shooting team,” Benter said. “We’re starting to see glimpses of that this summer. It’s encouraging. Summer is a lot more laid back and looser. We let the kids play. Hopefully they can get an extra season of experience. We will get about 20 games in. WE have a lot of experience coming back.”
Brownstown graduated two seniors from last year’s team that went 18-7.
On Sunday, seniors Ethan Wischmeier, Michael Boshears, Braden Neal, Seth Borden, Isaac Johnson and Matthew Garland, and juniors Isaiah Wineinger and Hayden Kinsler, all took to the floor for the Braves.
Brownstown’s junior varsity has also had a stellar summer. After going undefeated in pool play, the Braves beat Trinity, Scottsburg and North Harrison to win the JV tourney at the shootout.
Braves junior varsity coach Marty Smith said the team has only lost one game all summer.
“We have some guys playing with coach Young this summer that (varsity) will look at also,” Benter said. “The big thing is that we want guys getting playing time during the summer. We talked to some of those (fringe varsity) guys during the summer and said go get some games in, we still have spots open during the winter.
“It has been a good summer for us.”
Trinity Lutheran struggled over the weekend, losing to Brownstown, CAI and Lanesville before going 1-1 on Sunday. Trinity lost to West Noble in draw play before finishing with a win over Wood Memorial.
The Cougars were short-handed, missing some key players, but coach Brian Stuckwisch saw it as an opportunity to get some playing time for underclassmen.
“They’re a little disappointed, but they’re improving all the time,” Stuckwisch said. “They’re stepping up. There are three freshmen playing up that are getting experience and there are some subs that are playing full games. It will make our team stronger come season.”
Trinity will have six seniors on its roster and bring in three juniors and seven sophomores. The Cougars were 9-17 overall for the 2017-18 season.
Stuckwisch said that the summer gives the players time to develop chemistry and develop individual skills.
“It makes their skills better,” he said. “If we’re not working on it, they’re probably sitting at home not playing basketball. We get them out here and give them the opportunity to improve individually.
“The kids get to learn how to play together before the season starts. It gives us a chance to improve. I think that most improvements come during the summer. We’ve been doing it for several years and the kids look forward to playing teams that they don’t see during the season. You get to measure how the athletes are progressing.”
The Cougars’ JV went 3-2 over the weekend. Stuckwisch said he has 15 freshman right now, and many of them played over the weekend.
“The summer is going really well,” he said. “We’re really busy. This is one of our busiest weeks and then we go to camp. We’re probably in the gym or playing a game four days a week.”