Braves set for regional matchup against Rangers

The Brownstown Central boys basketball team is on the quest for the program’s first regional championship since the 2008-09 season.

The first step was for the Braves to win the 21st sectional title in program history, which they did last week at Southwestern Hanover.

Brownstown defeated Eastern (Pekin) 46-35, outlasted Providence 44-42 and ran through Southwestern 72-42.

What stands in the way of the Braves’ next task at hand are the Forest Park Rangers, who won the Tell City Sectional last week with wins over Crawford County (57-45), Tell City (74-41) and North Posey (49-48).

On paper, the matchup favors the Braves.

Brownstown is 22-4 this season, while Forest Park is 9-17. The Braves have a sagarin rating of 90.1, which is 15th in the state and first in Class 2A. The Rangers have a sagarin rating of 64.11, which is 205th overall and 41st in 2A.

Drew Messmer is in his first season coaching Forest Park, while Dave Benter is in year 25 leading the Braves.

Despite the differences in statistics, the Braves know not to underestimate any opponent this time of year.

One of the things Benter was pleased about last week in the sectional is how Brownstown was able to win different types of games.

The Braves, who usually average 66 points per game, had to play some slower-paced, grind-it-out games down the stretch of their season, and they were able to do so.

Brownstown is paced in scoring by Jack Benter, who averages 30.3 points per game. Colby Hall has become the consistent secondary scorer for Brownstown, but any one of Chace Coomer, Parker Hehman, Jakob Arthur, Carson Darlage, Micah Sheffer and Adam Stahl can come in and provide key baskets for the Braves.

For Forest Park, they are led in scoring by Jace Berg at 16.9 points per game. Reid Howard (11.1) and Bryson Partenheimer (10) also are double-digit scorers.

Forest Park’s last regional title came in the 2017-18 season, and the Rangers have six regional titles overall. They will be going for their seventh, while the Braves will be looking for the program’s fourth regional trophy. The last time these two programs met was Dec. 28, 2012, and Brownstown won 58-40. All time in the tournament, the series is evened up at 2-2.

Tip-off between these two teams will be Saturday at Southridge High School’s Huntingburg Memorial Gym at 4 p.m. The Braves went to Memorial Gym on Thursday afternoon to practice.

The second regional final game at Southridge on Saturday night will feature Linton-Stockton (26-1) and North Decatur (21-5) at 7 p.m.

The semistate pairings will be made by random draw and announced via on Sunday at 1 p.m.