The Brownstown Central girls basketball team managed to win a long, gritty game over Paoli 68-59 on Saturday.
The Braves staved off a third-quarter rally from the Rams and then survived a free-throw fest in the fourth quarter for the victory.
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The game was marked by fouls: by the final whistle, the two squads had combined for 56 fouls.
With Brownstown holding a 32-23 advantage to open the half, the Rams hit back-to-back shots to begin a rally. An and-one play by the Rams’ Kenton Chastain off a missed free throw narrowed the deficit to 38-37 at 4:08.
But the Braves responded with a 13-5 run in the final 2:25 of the quarter, taking a 51-42 lead into the final eight minutes of play.
Both teams had more than eight fouls to end the quarter, and Paoli was already in the double bonus.
On the first possession of the fourth quarter, Rachel Cadle managed an and-one opportunity for Paoli.
The Braves held on to possession at a 57-48 lead, forcing the Rams to foul on multiple attempts to steal the ball.
Despite a mini-run in the winding seconds, the Braves hung on for the win.
Paoli went 4-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter while the Braves made 5-10.
Braves coach Karla Rieckers said that her team had to grind it out for the victory.
“I think (the win) has to due with our kids hearts,” she said. “They play extremely hard. I don’t think there’s a kid out there who would have been happy walking away if we lost this game. I think they want to win and play hard, they gutted it out at the end.
“Tonight, I thought we played extremely hard and well the first half. I didn’t think we played as crisp and accurate as I had wanted. We made some mistakes that weren’t typical of us, we went into panic mode. Those are things we need to work and improve on. We just need to continue to learn.”
The Braves finished 19 for 35 and the Rams were 13 for 34 from the charity stripe.
“Free throws are something we need to work on and improve,” Rieckers said. “If we’re in a big game, we can’t shoot 19 of 35 — our percentage needs to go up.”
Madison Klinge led Brownstown with 16 points, sophomore Grace Jaynes added 13 and freshman Payton Farmer had 12.
Farmer picked up her first double-double of the season by also tallying 13 of the team’s 38 rebounds.
“(Farmer) does a really nice job for us,” Rieckers said. “She’s a kid who plays AAU (travel ball) and loves the game of basketball and soaks up the information we give her. She’s a nice player and all of our kids play well together.”
Tied at 4-4 with 4:20 left in the first quarter, Jaynes sunk three straight baskets, including one 3-pointer, for seven points.
“Grace can step out and hit those (mid-range, and 3-point) shots and (Paoli) wasn’t coming out to guard her,” Rieckers said. “If they were going to leave her open, we we’re going to allow her to continue shooting.”
Brownstown Central got after it early on defense, forcing five Rams turnovers, to take a 13-10 lead after one quarter.
The Braves opened the second quarter on a 8-2 run behind baskets from sophomores Shelby and Kristen Stuckwisch.
At the halftime buzzer, Paoli’s Madison Street hit a 3-pointer to narrow Brownstown’s advantage to 32-23.
Cadle had 14 while Bela Bewester and Amber Smith each had nine points for the Rams.
On the night, the Braves played nine different girls on the floor.
“With the style we want to play, we will have to play more people,” Rieckers said. “It’s hard for our players to do the continuous up and down tempo we want to play. We want to push the ball. If we can play eight or nine players, it will be to our benefit. We have some kids splitting time with the junior varsity, but I thought that when they came up they did a nice job. They did what we asked them to do.”
The Braves (2-0) will play at Trinity Lutheran (2-0) on Tuesday.