For The Tribune
Poise during overtime, especially at the foul line, lifted Brownstown Central’s girls basketball team to a 66-62 Charlestown Sectional semifinal victory over Scottsburg on Friday night.
The Braves (16-8) controlled the game from the start, but a late second-half surge by Scottsburg turned a one-sided contest into a nail-biter. Brownstown led 40-21 midway through the third quarter when the Warriors caught fire.
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Shaken by the loss of their commanding lead, the Braves regrouped in overtime. Two Ashley Schroer buckets, a 3-pointer by Halle Hehman and free throws by Katherine Benter and Tayler Garland gave Brownstown a 64-56 edge, enough to quell a determined Scottsburg squad.
“We got hesitant attacking the basket,” Brownstown head coach Karla Rieckers said. “When we went into overtime, we talked about how we need to play to win, rather than play not to lose. I could hear the girls (in the huddle) talking about how we were not going to lose.”
Friday’s victory moves the Braves into Saturday night’s sectional final, where they will play Salem. Brownstown is looking to win its first sectional title since 2011.
Getting to the championship game took contributions from throughout the Braves’ lineup. Schroer led Brownstown with a monstrous effort, finishing with 27 points and eight rebounds.
Hehman, meanwhile, was Ms. Clutch, hitting key baskets in the fourth quarter and in overtime while ending with 16 points. The junior made all four of her 3-pointers.
Benter made all four of her overtime foul shots and finished with 13 points. Payton Farmer had a quiet night offensively but had three rebounds and a blocked shot in the extra period. Garland also had a key blocked shot as Scottsburg tried to mount another comeback in overtime.
As a team, BC shot 3-for-4 from the field and 5-for-6 from the foul line in the overtime period.
“I can’t say enough about all of our kids,” Rieckers said. “We didn’t fold. We went to overtime, but we dominated.”
Based on how the Braves started the game, the last thing on BC fans’ minds was a nervous finish. Brownstown opened the game with seven straight points and stopped the Warriors from scoring during the game’s first four minutes.
A 9-0 run as the first quarter expired gave the Braves a 16-4 lead. In the second quarter, a 7-0 run swelled BC’s lead to 29-14.
When Schroer scored a fast-break layup with 4:03 left in the third quarter, Brownstown owned a 40-21 advantage and seemed certain to win going away.
That’s when Scottsburg started finding the basket and embarked on an 11-0 run that narrowed the score to 44-39.
A 3-pointer by Hehman and free throws by Benter bumped the lead back to 49-39 with 4:52 left in the fourth quarter, once again seeming to give BC an insurmountable lead.
But Scottsburg kept chipping away. Six straight points by Warrior forward Zoe Zellers closed the lead to 54-52. Scottsburg’s Kady Clancy completed the comeback by draining two foul shots with just three seconds left on the clock.
“They hit some 3s and we got tentative on defense,” Rieckers summarized. “But we got the victory and now we move on.”