With just two returning players with varsity experience, the Brownstown Central girls basketball team had to battle their nerves in their season-opener at Corydon Central on Saturday.
The game started shaky, as the Braves trailed 11-5 after one quarter of play.
However, the game turned in the second period, and the Braves settled in to come away with a 50-40 Mid-Southern Conference road victory.
A 3-pointer by sophomore Madison Klinge narrowed the Braves’ deficit to 11-10 with 5:50 in the second quarter.
Freshman Brooklyn Snodgrass made a 3-pointer, but the Panthers answered with a trey of their own to go up 20-15 at the 3:45 mark.
The Braves finished on a 6-0 run behind two baskets from Klinge and a free throw from sophomore Sophie Kreis to take a 21-20 lead at halftime.
“When you look at the age of our players, we’re extremely young,” Braves coach Karla Rieckers said. “I started one senior, one freshman and three sophomores, and had a freshman and sophomores come off the bench.
“Other than Morgan Wehmiller and Madison (Klinge), it was the first time for the girls playing varsity. Before the game, you would have thought we needed trash cans and bathrooms with all the nerves. I think once we calmed down, got into the flow and our press (defense) picked up we fed off that.”
The Braves, who had height-disadvantages across the lineup, played an aggressive press defense to force a handful of Panthers’ turnovers.
On the roster, the Braves have one player at 5-foot-11 and five players a under 5-foot-6.
A basket by Braves sophomore forward Shelby Stuckwisch opened the second half, and was followed by another 3-opener by Snodgrass and a pair of free throws by freshman Payton Farmer.
At 1:28, Klinge forced a turnover and dished an assist to Wehmiller to give the Braves a 32-27 lead with 1:28 left in the third quarter.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Braves managed a 32-29 lead.
Picking up the pace on offense, the Braves opened the final period with back-to-back field goals by Farmer.
A basket by Braves sophomore center Grace Jaynes put BCHS up 42-34 with two minutes left.
Corydon couldn’t manage from the free-throw line, and the Braves buried their baskets from the charity stripe the rest of the way.
Brownstown went 11 for 19 in free throws while the Panthers shot 12 for 27.
Klinge led the Braves with 15 points and eight rebounds while Farmer added eight points and seven boards.
McKendra Fisher finished the high-scorer for the Panthers with 10 points, Ashley Oliver had nine and Gracie Poden tallied seven along with Megan Rowlett.
The Braves won the battle on the boards, outrebounding Corydon 24-19.
Typically, the Braves play Corydon at the end of the season, but with the early start to the season the game had to be rescheduled to the beginning.
“We had to move our Corydon game with all the scheduling changes, but it was the first conference game for both teams,” Rieckers said. “It was a good win for us. We do have things to work on, but any time you can give a young team a victory it’s going to give them confidence.”
Rieckers said that her team came up with a conference win to start 2015-16.
“I told them afterwards that they looked a lot lot more relaxed after the game than during it,” Rieckers said. “You could see the smiles on their faces. Hopefully, we will build on this. The only place we have to go is up, we can only keep improving with how young we are.”
Saturday, the Braves (1-0, 1-0 MSC) will host Paoli in their home-opener.