Head coach Brandon Allman wanted his team to believe, and right when the ball was tipped on Saturday afternoon against No. 2 Silver Creek, it was apparent the Braves believed they had a chance.
On paper, it would seem like this contest wouldn’t be close. A 4-7 Brownstown team that’s a product of the tough schedule it plays, hosting a 12-1 Silver Creek team donning the second-best ranking in Class 3A.
But all that went out the window inside The Pit when the game started. The Dragons were doing everything in their power to keep the ball out of Maddy Hackman’s hands, and conversely, the Braves provided a stingy defensive effort to prevent the opponent from running the actions they like.
The result? The underdog Braves held an 11-10 lead after the first quarter.
“I thought our girls were ready to play,” head coach Brandon Allman said. “I thought they were locked in to the scouting report. We were able to take a lot of their offensive stuff away that made them successful.”
The slow-paced, grind-it-out, defensive battle continued in the second frame.
Silver Creek took its first lead of the game with 4:40 left in the quarter, going up 15-13. The Dragons were up 17-13 before Brownstown closed the half on a 4-0 run and took an 18-17 lead into the break.
The Braves had the lead despite Hackman not having any baskets.
“They did a nice job of shading her,” Allman said. “Any time she caught the ball, they had a second defender ready to come double her. To compliment Maddy, I told her this at halftime, I knew she hadn’t scored, but I thought she was a big difference for us defensively.”
Through three quarters, Brownstown was able to extend its lead, holding a 26-23 advantage over the defending state champs with one quarter to play.
But after doing solid job of breaking Silver Creek’s press through the first three quarters, the start of the fourth really hurt the Braves.
Silver Creek’s Kynidi Mason-Striverson made a layup, then instantly got a steal off an inbounds play and scored again, and just like that, the Dragons were in front 27-26.
It seemed as if that could be a turning point and Silver Creek could seize control for the victory, but the Braves wouldn’t go away.
Trailing by two, a 3-pointer by Mallory Klosterman with 1:20 to play put Brownstown back in front.
The Dragons quickly regained the lead, and then it became the foul game for Brownstown. Silver Creek hit 17 of 31 free throws in the game, and the two biggest were from Sydney Sierota with four seconds to play to put her team up three, and Emma Klinge’s half court heave at the buzzer didn’t fall as Silver Creek held on for a 38-35 win.
“I told the girls I can handle losing when they compete and battle like that,” Allman said. “They have nothing to hang their head about.”
Klinge and Kalee Borden both led the Braves in scoring with seven apiece. They both played a vital role in breaking the press as well.
“They played really well,” Allman said. “That’s by far the best she’s (Klinge) has handled their pressure. That just starts with her growth and her maturation.”
Jenna Klosterman added another six points, Hannah Stahl scored five, Mallory Klosterman and Andrea Bair each had three, Addie Shelton had two, and Hackman got on the board with two scoring a late bucket in the fourth.
Brownstown is now 4-8 on the season and will back at home on Tuesday for a matchup with Hauser.
A team never wants to lose, but the belief the Braves displayed on Saturday when they could’ve just mailed it in is a key stepping stone as this season progresses.
“That was the most that we’ve communicated, and that’s what we gotta build on,” Allman said. “They were talking out there more, and good things were happening because of it. We just still gotta get better in the half court offensively. Find ways to get Maddy some shots and find ways for different girls to score.”