The Brownstown Central boys basketball team opened their 2015-16 campaign with a 69-56 home victory against Mid-Southern Conference rival Salem on Tuesday.
In the first quarter, the Braves opened on a 10-4 run behind six points from senior Cam Shoemaker at the 5:13-mark.
Salem was able to tie the game at 12-12, but the Braves scored the final four points in the final 2 minutes to take a four-point lead into the second quarter.
The game was physical from the start, as the Braves tallied five fouls while the Lions had six infringements.
A 3-pointer by Braves junior Cody Waskom put the Braves up 21-15 with 5:55 left in the first half, but Salem climbed back to take their first lead at 3:53, at 22-21, on a free throw by Lions freshman Xavier Haendiges.
The teams traded the lead four times until the Braves scored on back-to-back baskets from senior Jacoby Shade and junior Carson Lambring.
Lambring drilled a 3-pointer as time expired, between the 3-point line and half court, to put the home team up 35-30 at intermission.
In the first half, the Braves had to utilize eight players with a few players in foul trouble.
“We are at our best when we’re physical,” Braves coach Dave Benter said. “We have experience with a junior and senior team. Strength is an advantage we have. We want to play in physical games.”
The Braves switched their defense to a 1-2-2 press to start the third quarter, and forced three turnovers by the 4:35 mark. In that span, Shade hit two 3-pointers and fellow-senior Zach McCory managed four points to distance the deficit to 47-34.
“Our defense led our offense in that run,” Benter said. “We were able to get some steals and quick shots in transitions. We were fortunate to go on that run during that time because other than that it was pretty much even the whole game.”
The Braves closed the quarter on a 5-0 run to go up 55-39 after 24 minutes of play.
Salem wasn’t able to go on a scoring run in the fourth, and the Braves cleared their bench with 1:30 to play to seal the win.
Shade led the Braves with 17 points while Lambring chipped-in 15.
Jaelen Nice had a team-high 14 points for Salem.
The Braves out-rebounded the Lions 30-34, led by six from Lambring and Shade.
Benter said he wants to see improvement in his offense’s efficiency.
“I was more disappointing in our offensive efficiency,” Benter said. “We took some bad shots and our ball movements — cutting and spacing — wasn’t where it needed to be. That’s typical for a first game, but we’re a very experienced team. I was hoping to come out more efficient than we were.”
Brownstown (1-0, 1-0 MSC) plays at Seymour (0-1) on Friday.
“We’ve seen them play,” Benter said of the Owls. “They have athleticism, shooting and size and length. They have a solid team. We’re going to have to play really well.”