Down to the wire: Persistent Braves fall short against Stars



Through the first 24 minutes of play, Brownstown Central’s boys basketball team kept finding answers in tough situations.

Every time Bedford North Lawrence got in front, the Braves found a way to get right back in the game.

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However, high school basketball is made up of 32 minutes, and the Braves weren’t able to come up clutch down the stretch.

The Stars used a big run to start the fourth quarter before holding on for a 64-60 win over the Class 3A No. 9 Braves Friday at BNL Fieldhouse.

The teams stayed within four points of each other through the first six minutes of the game.

In the final 1:51 of the period, the Stars (12-8) went on a 7-0 run — behind four points by Brayton Bailey and a 3-pointer from Jathan Ritter — to lead 15-8.

After an and-one conversion from the Stars’ Trey Mollet opened the second quarter, Braves coach Dave Benter took a timeout.

Out of the stoppage, Michael Boshears hit a 3-pointer, which spurred an 8-1 run by BCHS (14-4). In that spree, Braden Neal got his offense going, hitting a 3-pointer and sinking a pair of free throws.

A trey from Neal tied the game at 19 with 3:48 on the clock before the teams traded the lead six times in the final 3:23 of the half.

At intermission, the Braves held on to a 26-25 edge.

In the third quarter, neither team could distance themselves.

After a 3-pointer from Boshears, Bailey hit a basket and McCall Ray buried a 3-pointer to put BNL on top 33-29 three minutes into the second half.

The Stars held the lead until back-to-back baskets by Johnson put the Braves back in front at 37-36 with 3:15 left in the period.

In the final 2:09 of the third, Boshears and Ethan Wischmeier each got baskets to go to put the Braves up 41-38.

Through 24 minutes, the Braves had just three turnovers.

The Stars took advantage of four quick Braves turnovers to start the fourth quarter.

BNL went on a 13-4 run by the 5:24-mark to lead 51-45 with 5:24 remaining.

“It was the perfect storm against us,” Braves coach Dave Benter said. “I thought we played as well, for two and a half quarters, as we’ve played all year. We executed, had the tempo we wanted, and were smart. We had two or three turnovers and then we came out and tried running a set twice and turned it over back both times.

“You just can’t give Bailey and (McCall) Ray live ball turnovers. That’s on me, the team, all of us. We need to be better and understand that against good teams, you have to execute for 32 minutes.”

While the Stars held the lead, the Braves stayed persistent.

Two baskets by Boshears and a score from Neal cut the Braves’ deficit to 56-52 with 2:53 on the clock.

Down 60-52, with 1:12 left, Johnson finished at the rim to cut it to six.

On the Stars’ inbound, Neal stole the ball and got it to Johnson, who scored to make it 60-54 with 40 seconds left.

After both teams hit a pair of free throws, Seth Borden scored to make it 64-60 with 20 ticks remaining.

On the next possession, the Stars launched the inbound pass to Bailey, who missed an open layup. The Braves pulled down the ball, but turned it over with 8.7 seconds left.

While the Stars missed their final two free throws, with three seconds on the board, the Braves weren’t able to take advantage.

In the fourth quarter, the Stars shot 8-for-11 from the field.

Bailey led all scorers with 27 points (10-for-17 shooting) while Drew Shoufler chipped in 12.

Johnson paced the Braves with 19 points, Boshears added 14 and Neal had 12.

The Stars outrebounded the visitors 33-28 and both teams finished with seven turnovers.

Shooting, Brownstown went 24-for-52 and BNL went 23-for-52. The Stars shot 14-for-22 from the free throw line to the Braves’ 5-for-8.

“Our guys are going to compete,” Benter said. “I thought we really competed tonight. That’s a good basketball team. We just have to learn to execute for 32 minutes and not let up. We really had control of the game, we just couldn’t execute.

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