Braves win "ugly game" over Cougars in Toby Yoho Classic final



It wasn’t pretty, but after four games in two days trying to win gracefully wasn’t much of a concern for the Brownstown Central girls basketball team.

Slugging it out with Jackson County rival Trinity Lutheran, the Braves weren’t at their best but were still able to down the Cougars for the second time this season, 49-44, and win the Toby Yoho Classic at Eastern Greene Middle School.

Though the Braves could have made it a little easier on themselves had they done a better job of attacking the painted area after Cougar star Sydney Jaynes fouled out of the game with just over four minutes to go. 

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Even prior to her fifth foul, the Braves didn’t do enough to extend their lead according to Brownstown Central coach Brandon Allman, who said his team wasn’t as focused as he had hoped.

"Even when [Jaynes] was in foul trouble, we didn’t take enough advantage and extend our lead like we should have," he said. "We were just in a gaze; we made some plays and ended up winning."

Allman conceded his girls playing their fourth game in two days factored into tired minds and tired legs, and neither team was at their peak like they were a month ago when they met at Trinity Lutheran High School.

Trinity coach Mike Lang was displeased with the foul calls on Jaynes, but wouldn’t go into further detail. He did, however, state that Jaynes is just as athletic as some of the guards she plays against and should be treated the same.

"It’s easy for me to say that when Sydney is on the court, the officials are looking at her because she’s the biggest kid on the floor," Lang commented. "Big kids are athletic too and I’ll leave it at that."

Jaynes’ fifth foul was a called charge and without her on the court, it was a difference maker according to Lang. 

Still the Cougars were able to keep the Braves from increasing their advantage thanks to a defensive adjustment. 

The Cougars designated a Brave player they would leave open and shoved Hannah Sabotin in the middle of the post area to seal off the lane. The adjustment worked well for Trinity Lutheran, netting a couple of turnovers and even taking a five-point advantage in the fourth quarter.

In addition to the defensive adjustment, the Cougars also received big minutes from Emma Schepman, who was forced into extended time. Trinity ran plenty of sets for Schepman and she either knocked down jumpers or went to the free-throw line.

Lang was pleased to see her grow up on the court against the Braves.  

"We’ve got all the confidence in the world in Emma and it’s why we were going to the ball screens with her," Lang explained. "She’s a good shooter if we have to go to a pick and pop, and right now it’s just a matter of her having confidence."

Yet, no matter the positives the Cougars earned, the Braves were too deep and too fresh when it counted to be denied the win.

Early on, the Braves raced out to an early 12-5 lead and Allman went to his bench for some extra rest for his starters.

Allman has wanted to get more time for his reserves so he can give his starters — namely Katherine Benter and Ashley Schroer — some rest and have them ready to go late in games.

He was able to do that on Saturday night and, when the game was tight, Benter and Schroer took over while the Cougars were playing catchup. 

"They have two really good players, but we are deeper and it played in our favor," Allman said. "I was able to get Ashley a couple of minutes early and they had to play some girls longer than they’re used to because of [Jaynes] being out for an extended period of time in the third."

Benter sealed the win for the Braves in the fourth quarter going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. She finished with 23 points to lead all scorers with Schroer totaling 15. Maddy Hackman netted six and Halle Hehman chipped in five to round out the BC scoring.

Even when they were down at points, Allman never questioned his team’s ability to fight back into the game. It’s that kind of toughness that makes them easy to coach according to Allman.

"That makes coaching easy when you don’t have to question effort," he said. "I had to question our attention to detail at times tonight, but never our effort."

Though the loss stings for the Cougars, Lang was also pleased with his girls’ effort on Saturday.

As he sees it, to be down just one point with a chance to tie or take the lead late in the game without one of his best players showed how far the Cougars have come. 

Also considering they erased a 14-point deficit in their semifinal game against Edgewood, the Cougars showed they have the will to overcome any obstacle.

"We’re not going to see a sectional tougher than what we saw out here today and we’re not going to see a regional tougher than what we saw today," he said. "Every player we had play for us in the second half stepped up and got after it."

Bailey Tabeling was the only Cougar player in double figures with 21 points. Jaynes and Schepman had nine and eight, respectively, while Sabotin and Kailene Cockerham each scored three. 

On the boards, the Braves edged the Cougars 23-22. The Braves also went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line while the Cougars went 6 of 12. 

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