For The Tribune
Jennings County’s Baylee Krueger hit a jump shot with less than five seconds left, Brownstown Central couldn’t get a clean look at the buzzer, and the Panthers escaped the host Braves 49-48 on Saturday.
A back-and-forth final quarter set up the closing theatrics.
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Trailing 36-33 entering the final quarter, the Panthers reeled off nine of the first 11 points to take a 42-38. Brownstown, though, responded with a 6-0 run to retake the lead.
After the teams exchanged baskets, Jennings County’s Shelbi Wright hit a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to give the Panthers a 47-46 lead.
Brownstown had another answer, as Brooke Ebbing gave the Braves the 48-47 lead.
But then Krueger’s clutch basket with 4.8 seconds left sealed the win. The Braves mishandled the ball on the game’s final play, and they couldn’t get a shot off.
“Jennings County is a really nice team,” Brownstown coach Karla Rieckers said. “They are a little bit of a hard matchup for us with Krueger on the inside, as she is so big and strong, yet she can step out and hit the three.
“It’s a little bit difficult for us to match up with them and if they throw the ball inside to her you can’t sag off too much because she will kick it out to someone who can make a three. I thought we had the play at the end that we needed but we jumbled the ball a little bit, but I think we could have finished.”
The Braves Ebbing and Morgan Wehmiller scored nine of the team’s first 15 points as they opened the game with a 15-4 advantage. The Braves led 19-10 in the second quarter, but the Panthers went on a 9-0 run to tie the game.
Ebbing ended the streak with a basket for a two-point lead. With 30 seconds left in the quarter, Wehmiller stole the ball and connected on a layup to take a 23-20 halftime lead.
The ebb-and-flow scoring continued after the break.
The Panthers scored the first 11 points in the third quarter to open a 31-23 lead, which was their biggest of the game. However, the Braves didn’t give up as Riley Wischmeier scored nine straight to give them the 32-31 lead. Ebbing hit two free throws for the 36-33 lead after three quarters.
“Anytime someone plays you in a zone you just can’t stand around,” Rieckers said. “I thought we were standing and passing the ball around the top of the outside, so we moved Brooke down on the inside a little more and that allowed Riley to step through there and she made some big shots for us.”
The game went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter until the Panthers were able to leave with the one-point win. The Braves won the battle of the boards 41-37 and hit 14-for-14 from the free throw line.
Ebbing led the Braves (14-4) with 18 points, while Wischmeier had 15 and Wehmiller scored 11. Ebbing also led with seven rebounds. The Panthers (12-5) were led in scoring by Sidney Gerkin who had 13.