From a distance, Brandon Allman’s full head of black hair looked intact, but he disagreed.
“They’re in there,” he said of gray strands sneaking in.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
That was after the Brownstown Central girls basketball team opened its 2020-21 season Saturday night by edging Corydon Central 66-61 in overtime in a Mid-Southern Conference game.
If Allman aged some, along with other home fans, it was understandable. The Braves pretty much won this game three times, even if it only counted once on the season record.
Two key scorers returned from last season’s 26-4 club, and the Panthers clearly identified senior Katherine Benter and sophomore Maddy Hackman as the threats and geared their defense to shut them down.
While each still scored in double figures, Hackman with 16 points and Benter with 12, the Braves relied heavily on performances from less-seasoned players.
Point guard Emma Klinge (14 points) and junior guard Kelsey Wischmeier (10 points) made Corydon pay for leaving them open.
“The rest of us knew we had to step up,” Klinge said.
The game was tight almost all of the way until Klinge’s two three-pointers and four points from Wischmeier provided a 10-point run and supplied a 50-41 lead with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Brownstown seemed in command, but Corydon shocked the Braves with its own nine-point stretch and took the lead before some late misses sent the game into OT at 54-54.
“We could have easily folded up,” Wischmeier said of the disquieting Panther comeback. “There were times they came back on us.”
Benter was the cool hand on the floor, taking control of the ball-handling in crunch time and scoring the first basket of overtime. Wischmeier made a layup and two free throws, and once again, building a 61-55 margin with 1:45 left, it appeared Brownstown had the game won.
And yet it almost got away once more. Corydon sophomore Ava Weber, playing bigger than her height of 5-foot-10, not only poured in a game-high 38 points, mostly on layups, but retaliated with five points to inch her team back to a one-point deficit.
Those 50-41 and 61-55 leads seemed safe, prompting Klinge to sum up their disappearance by saying, “It was a little chaotic.”
Benter said she never let herself believe the game was over at either juncture because of the volatile nature of the sport and momentum changes.
“Basketball is such a game of swings,” she said. Still, the first thing Benter said of the game was, “Whew,” reflecting the tense nature of the contest.
Benter nailed two free throws with 41.7 seconds left for a 63-60 lead, which seemed to clinch things a third time even before Hackman added three foul shots in the closing seconds.
Weber, who also grabbed 13 rebounds, made 18 out of 23 shots from the field, most of them two-footers, driving to the hoop and putting down rebound follows.
“She absolutely abused us,” Benter said. “She’s really athletic. She’s a good player.”
Brownstown persevered, however, and critically made 17 out of 22 free throw attempts to Corydon’s 8-for-20.
“It’s something we talk about all the time,” Allman said of the importance of making those free shots from the foul line.
Shots from 15 feet away like that seemed to be the only ones Weber missed.
“We had no answer,” Allman said of covering Weber.
Even though the Braves committed ill-timed turnovers to aid Corydon’s big comeback from down 50-41, they never let the visitors pull away from there, never trailing by more than two points in the late going.
“The toughness and the grit (of his team)” made Allman proud, he said. “We’ll learn from these situations.”
It is especially nice to absorb a lesson when it doesn’t even cost your team a defeat and even if it costs a gray hair here or there.
Brownstown (1-0) — Kelsey Wischmeier 3 4-5 10, Hannah Stahl 0 0-0 0, Kalee Borden 2 1-2 5, Maddy Hackman 4 4-6 16, Emma Klinge 5 0-0 14, Katherine Benter 3 6-7 12, Andrea Bair 2 2-2 6, Avery Koch 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 17-22 66.
Corydon (0-1) — Grace Erwin 0 1-3 1, Ava Weber 18 2-5 38, Bailey Orme 1 1-2 4, Jessica Fulk 3 2-4 10, Addison Sailor 0 0-0 0, Kayla Willoughby 2 2-6 6, Camdyn Oberholtzer 0 0-0 0, Chloe Cannon 1 0-0 2. Totals 25 8-20 61.
3-point goals: Brownstown 9 (Hackman 4, Klinge 4, Borden 2), Corydon 3 (Fulk 2, Orme)
Rebounds: Brownstown 31 (Benter 9, Borden 7), Corydon 31 (Weber 13, Willoughby 4)
Turnovers: Brownstown 13, Corydon 18.
Fouls: Brownstown 20, Corydon 17.
Corydon 63, Brownstown Central 28
Brownstown: Jo Brittain 13