From the opening tip to the final buzzer, Brownstown Central’s girls basketball team left no doubt about the final result of Saturday night’s Class 3A Edgewood Sectional final.
The Braves hit six of their first seven shots, including five 3-pointers, and never trailed during a 59-35 victory over Brown County.
The victory advances Brownstown to next weekend’s Greencastle Regional, where the Braves (19-6) will play Indianapolis Chatard (16-7). Indian Creek (17-6) and Tri-West (15-6) are paired in the regional’s other matchup.
Brownstown entered Saturday’s final having struggled early in its two previous sectional games, shooting 31% and 15% in the first quarters of those contests. The Braves reversed that trend against Brown County, however, when Emma Klinge and Maddy Hackman combined to knock down five 3-pointers in a four-minute span and propelled the Braves to a 19-6 lead.
“That was definitely a nice start, especially after our last game,” senior guard Katherine Benter said. “We got some momentum going our way and got some confidence.”
Benter scored 31 points in each of the Braves’ first two sectional games but accounted for a relatively modest 14 in this one thanks to the hot shooting of Klinge and Hackman.
“(Brown County) ran a triangle-and-two defense to try to take away Maddy and Katherine,” Brownstown coach Brandon Allman said. “Emma Klinge came out and hit three straight 3s. Maddy struggled shooting the basketball a little last night. I told her tonight was going to be her night. When you see a few shots go in, it’s contagious.”
Hackman led all scorers with 20 points, boosted by her 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range.
“It just took some getting used to the gym,” the 5-foot-7 sophomore said. “We’d never played here before, and in the first two games, some of our shots didn’t fall. But tonight, we cleared our minds. We played loose. We played confident. Once you see a few go in, they start to fall after that.”
The Braves finished with 12 3-pointers on 27 attempts (44%), bettering the 40% goal set by Allman. In their first two sectional games, they shot just 33% and 21% from long range.
Brown County’s best run at the Braves came early in the second quarter when the Eagles scored 10 straight points and narrowed the score to 19-16. Brownstown answered with a 34-7 run over the next 14 minutes to swell the lead to 53-23.
“They went on a little bit of a run there in the second quarter, but we started attacking the basket and got a few easy buckets,” Allman said. “That really started opening things up again.”
Klinge ended the game with three 3s and 13 points. Andrea Bair had a nine rebounds, followed by Benter’s eight boards.
The win over Brown County handed Brownstown its second consecutive sectional title and the seventh in the school’s history.
“It’s really special, winning back-to-back titles,” Allman said. “It’s easy to get complacent when you win one, but our girls never got that way. They were hungry and really focused. I thought it showed tonight.”
The last time the Braves won consecutive sectional crowns was in the late 1990s when they won three straight (1996-1998).
“It’s a special feeling to be able to cut down the nets, especially two years back-to-back,” Benter said. “That’s what we’ve worked for the whole year.”
Achieving a sectional title during the uncertainty created by the current pandemic wasn’t lost on the Braves.
“It has been a difficult and unusual year, to say the least,” Allman said. “All of the planning and extra precautions we had to take, that mentally takes a toll. Kudos to our girls and our families, for being diligent and safe. Going back-to-back through all of these challenges makes this even more special.”
Added Hackman, “We’re really thankful to be here right now. We’re grateful for every game, to be playing, because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Brownstown Central 59, Brown County 35
Brown County (9-7): Abby Fleetwood 5 2-2 13, Anna Fleetwood 3 1-2 9, Abigail Watson 3 1-6 7, Savanna Oden 1 0-0 2, Maddie Huff 0 2-2 2, Isa Fogg 1 0-0 2, Katie Tipton 0 0-0 0, Lexie Austin 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 6-12 35.
Brownstown Central (19-6): Maddy Hackman 6 3-3 20, Katherine Benter 5 1-2 14, Emma Klinge 5 0-0 13, Hannah Stahl 2 0-0 5, Kalee Borden 0 4-4 4, Addie Shelton 1 1-2 3, Andrea Bair 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Wischmeier 0 0-0 0, Avery Koch 0 0-0 0, Payton Brock 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 9-11 59.
3-point goals: Brown County (An. Fleetwood 2, Ab. Fleetwood), Brownstown Central (Hackman 5, Klinge 3, Benter 3, Stahl)
Rebounds: Brown County 37 (Watson 9, Oden 7, An. Fleetwood 5), Brownstown Central 34 (Bair 9, Benter 8, Borden 5).
Turnovers: Brown County 10, Brownstown Central 8
Fouls: Brown County 8, Brownstown Central 13