If any team was going to slow down the Brownstown Central girls basketball team this season, they were going to have to be at their best.
The Class 3A top-ranked Salem Lions were just that Saturday at the Jeffersonville Semistate, jumping on the Braves early, weathering the BC second-quarter surge and then dominating the second half allowed the Lions to stymie BC’s charge to Bankers Life Fieldhouse 57-42.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
“I think Salem played really well. That’s probably the best game I’ve seen them play, and I’ve seen a lot of their basketball games,” Brownstown Central coach Brandon Allman said. “We just were going way too quickly on the offensive end, which played right into their hands. We were taking quick shots, not making them work, and taking long, quick shots led to a lot of their runouts in the first half.”
Had any of those quick shots fallen early, it may have been a whole different ballgame. Yet, the Braves managed just two made field goals in the first quarter and then didn’t hit their first one of the second until the 4-minute, 54-second mark.
However, that Ashley Schroer jumper caused light bulbs to go off for the Braves, who went on a 7-0 run to end the first half to put their deficit at just two heading into the locker room.
Their points during their late run all came in the painted area or at the free throw line, two areas where Allman said his players needed to be great if they were going to knock the Lions off their perch for the second time this season.
Schroer and Emma Klinge did the most damage for the Braves, scoring 17 of their 19 first-half points, and got all but three of those in the lane or at the line. The Braves combined for just 6 of 24 shooting, but Schroer hit all six of the Braves’ first-half free throws.
The momentum looked like it was going to carry over into the second half after freshman Maddy Hackman sank an elbow jumper to tie the game up for the first — and only — time.
But then the Lions went on a 13-0 run to blow open the game, and the Braves were unable to respond until the 2:23 mark when Hackman hit 1 of 2 free throws.
“We got back into the basketball game, and then for some reason, we went right back to the same thing,” Allman said. “We took more quick shots, and we weren’t able to keep the basketball out of the lane.”
Allman also noted last week they were going to have to keep the Lions off the free throw line. For the first 16 minutes, they did that, but that all changed in the second half.
Salem attempted their first free throw of the game at the 2:35 mark of the third quarter. They would go on to attempt 30 for the game, knocking down 20 of them to keep the desperate Braves at arm’s length.
Half of those free throw attempts came from junior Karly Sweeney, who went 11-for-15 from the stripe.
“Sweeney is just a bull in a china shop,” Allman said. “She puts her head down and makes refs make decisions.”
Unfortunately, many of those decisions went the way of the Lions, who were in the double bonus early in the fourth quarter.
Brownstown Central got the deficit down to 10 points twice in the final stanza, prompting some Salem timeouts, but they never got it back down to single digits.
The Braves, who are a very good 3-point shooting team, were let down by their distance shooting going just 4-for-22 from behind the arc. Klinge, who came into the game averaging just 1.5 ppg, hit three of their long balls.
Running shooters off of the 3-point line or forcing contested attempts was priority No. 1 for the Lions. Allman said he wanted his girls to counter by working it inside, but it just didn’t happen enough for it to matter.
“They were spread out wide, and I don’t feel like we were able to get the basketball inside enough,” he explained. “When we did get it inside, we were successful, but we just didn’t get it in there enough because we were being really quick on the offensive end.”
Schroer and Klinge led the Braves with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Katherine Benter added nine, Hackman tallied six, while both Zoe Fountain and Avery Koch rounded out the scoring with two.
Brownstown Central finishes the season with a 26-4 record and took home the program’s sixth sectional and fourth regional titles. They also took home a share of their first Mid-Southern Conference title since 2015.