With a trophy on the line in the third day of a tournament filled with strong competition, the Brownstown Central boys basketball team was all business Saturday.
The Braves earned their school’s third Graber Post Buildings Classic championship at North Daviess with a 69-57 win against Orleans.
The game’s first possession set the tone for the game: minimal, efficient possessions.
Following the tip, the Braves passed the ball around for
52 seconds before junior Zach McCory buried a 3-pointer.
After trading the lead, the Braves found themselves back on top at the 4:51 mark when senior Cole Borden hit three free throws after getting fouled on a shot from deep.
The two teams traded the lead once more, but the Braves led 19-15 after McCory drained a 3-pointer at the quarter buzzer.
McCory was on a mission from the start, as he scored 10 points — including three 3-pointers — in the first eight minutes of play.
McCory led the Braves with 26 points. Jacoby Shade, Borden and Cam Shoemaker also all finished in double-digit scoring.
The Braves out-rebounded the Bulldogs 24-17. Shade led the charge with seven boards, and Shoemaker and McCory each had five rebounds.
“We thought we had a size advantage and had some mismatches,” Braves coach Dave Benter said. “We wanted to exploit that. We had some guys who had tough matchups.”
After the Braves took a 14-point lead in to the fourth quarter, Orleans tried to make the game competitive with one final push.
But with 2:26 remaining and the Braves ahead 58-51, a double technical was called on the Bulldogs’ bench.
Shade made all four free throws to give the Braves a double-digit lead, and the team cruised to record its sixth-straight win.
For the game, McCory led the way for the Braves.
The second quarter opened on a made 3-pointer from McCory, as the Braves scored another
19 points before intermission.
During the stretch before the half, the Braves got a boost off the bench from junior Matthew Nierman. Nierman drained back-to-back 3-pointers to help the team amass a 34-23 lead with 3:15 left.
At the half, the Braves led 38-30.
The Braves opened-up the lead in the third quarter through outscoring the Bulldogs 12-6.
Shoemaker got the offense going in the post with five points to aid his team to a 50-36 lead after three quarter.
“(Cam) completely changed our offense,” Benter said. “Guys are figuring out different ways they can score. We’re getting more comfortable. When we make shots it opens up the middle.”
Orleans’ Cale Hall led the way for his team with a team-high 26 points before the final buzzer.
“I think they have one of the best players in southern Indiana — Cale Hall is really good,” Benter said. “(The Bulldogs) are extremely disciplined. The rest of their guys are seniors and they know their roles. They make shots, get loose balls and play tough defense.”
In the tournament, the Braves defeated Clay City, Rock Creek Academy and the Bulldogs.
“That was a nice win tonight,” Benter said. “Throughout all three games we saw some really nice things throughout the tournament from our team that we hadn’t seen consistently up through this point.”
The Braves also won the championship in 2008 and 2011.
“The weekend before, the way we played, we knew we needed to get better,” Benter said. “Our guys have to understand what made this (run) successful; so we don’t peak now. This is just a stepping stone to the conference and sectional.”
On Jan. 9, the Braves (8-1) host Jennings County.
“We need to learn from this (tournament),” Benter said. “I think we got a lot more consistent play on offense than we’ve seen throughout the year. We moved the ball, had good screens and made shots. We made shots well throughout the tournament.”