Trinity wins thriller over Brownstown to open season

Kailene Cockerham calmly stood at the free-throw line during three different instances in the final minute of Trinity’s season-opening game against Brownstown on Tuesday night.

The senior guard iced 5-of-6 free throws, but the first four were the most important.

Twice Brownstown was only down two, breathing down the neck of the Cougars in the waning minutes, and twice Cockerham made a pair of free throws to help extend the lead to four as the Cougars went on to win the game 57-52.

“Kailene has played in a lot of big ball games, and that’s what we expect out of Kailene,” Trinity head coach Mike Lang said. “She’d come through for us a lot last year in big moments. She stepped up.”

It was an excellent back-and-forth battle between the two counties team on Tuesday night inside Trinity’s gym. The stands were split half black and red and half navy and yellow.

Brownstown was the one that got off to the good start.

Brownstown came out in the first quarter and took advantage of Trinity on the boards. The Braves took a 15-10 lead after the first quarter, thriving on a lot of points in the paint by attacking off the bounce.

“We were really active early,” Brownstown head coach Brandon Allman said.

But the Cougars bounced back in the second frame. They turned it around to take a 26-22 lead into halftime, thanks to some stellar outside shooting by Bailey Tabeling and Liza Froedge.

Lang said it was 100 percent about toughness for his team to turn it around.

“We allowed too many offensive rebounds and them winning 50-50 balls,” Lang said. “I knew if we could clean that up, we would be Ok, and I thought we did a pretty good job of cleaning that up. They’re so darn physical and talented, they’re gonna be a good team, that’s where I’m proud of our team. We were able to come back and be just as tough from the second quarter on.”

The margin stayed the same after three quarters and Trinity stayed in front by four, 40-36.

Tabeling continued to find ways to put the ball in the basket. Lang said sometimes you can just sit back and watch the junior guard go to work.

As the game moved to the fourth quarter, it had everything you could want — an excited crowd, big shots, crucial turnovers and of course, the icing free throws from Cockerham.

It looked as if Trinity would start to pull away, but the Braves battled back.

“I just loved how our girls competed,” Allman said.

Brownstown had just re-taken the lead midway through the fourth quarter, but then Bailey Tabeling nailed a step-back 3-pointer with under four minutes to play to take back a 49-47 advantage. It was three of Tabeling’s 32 points on the night.

“That’s just a good basketball player,” Allman said. “She’s a Division I type basketball player.”

Trinity led by five with 2:16 left to play, and then Maddy Hackman drained a big three to bring the Braves back within two.

Hackman led the Braves in scoring on the night with 16 points.

After Cockerham’s first two free throws, Brownstown got down the floor quick and Emma Klinge found Andrea Bair for an easy two, and it was back to a 2-point game. But after Cockerham’s third and fourth free throws with 14 seconds left, the Braves ran out of time to catch the Cougars.

“It’s Jackson County basketball at its best,” Lang said. “I’m much happier talking to you after a win than a loss.”

Tabeling led all scorers with 32, Froedge contributed 12, Cockerham 7, and Madison Keith and Emma Schepman each had 2. For the Braves, in addition to Hackman’s 16, Kalee Borden had 9, Jenna Klosterman 8, Hannah Stahl, Klinge and Bair each had 6, and Addie Shelton had 2.

The junior varsity game was also a thriller as a nice prelude to the varsity.

The Braves’ JV team defeated Trinity’s JV 37-36 in a thrilling finish that came down to the wire. Jordan Brewer hit a huge three to give the Cougars a 36-35 lead with 31 seconds left.

Brownstown tied the game at 36, and then Abby Schroer got fouled as clock expired on the game clock. She missed the first free throw, but then nailed the second in walk-off fashion to win the game 37-36.

Brownstown (1-3) will be back in action on Friday night when the Braves travel to Mitchell.

As for the Cougars, they will go on the road Saturday night to play at Crothersville, who dropped a game to Borden on Tuesday night 61-44.

Brownstown’s Maddy Hackman goes up for a shot over two Trinity defenders Tuesday night.

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Brownstown’s Emma Klinge makes a floater during Tuesday’s night game against Trinity.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Brownstown’s Kalee Borden drives in the lane on Tuesday night against Trinity.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Brownstown’s Maddy Hackman dribbles into a 3-pointer on Tuesday night against Trinity.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Trinity’s Madison Keith looks to pass on Tuesday night against Brownstown.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Trinity’s Kailene Cockerham uses a screen on Tuesday night against Brownstown.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Trinity’s Liza Froedge celebrates a 3-pointer Tuesday night in the team’s home opener against Brownstown.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Trinity’s Bailey Tabeling drives into the paint on Tuesday night against Brownstown.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune

Trinity’s Bailey Tabeling goes up through traffic to make a layup Tuesday night against Brownstown.

Dylan Wallace | The Tribune