Playing on the home floor of the Hickory Huskers, Class 3A No. 5 Brownstown Central had a night to remember Saturday in a battle of unbeatens against No. 7 Tipton.
Unfortunately for the Braves, there wasn’t a Jimmy Chitwood-esque shot at the end to win the game, as they fell 57-51 in overtime at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown.
Tipton guard Mason Degenkolb stole the show in the cracker-box sized gym, which was used for the 1986 film “Hoosiers,” recording 39 points to help his team advance to 10-0 on the season.
The dimly lit gym, filled to its 600-seat capacity, was filled with blue on one side and the other red. The stage was set for a dramatic contest.
And it was.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Brownstown coach Dave Benter brought senior Zach McCory, who had been saddled with four fouls for much of the second half, to help the Braves’ offense.
“We wanted to hold out as long as possible,” Benter said. “We were down with three minutes to go, and we needed him for every possession. They had a hard time guarding him.”
The move paid off.
McCory drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 43 and managed a layup to put the Braves up by two with 63 seconds left.
But Degenkolb had a response, hitting a fadeaway shot from just past the free throw line to re-tie the game.
The Braves couldn’t find a shot on their last possession, and overtime ensued.
Degenkolb scored three straight to open the extra period, but McCory answered with an and-one conversion to tie it at 48-48 with 2:38 left.
However, McCory fouled out with 1:32 left, and the Braves’ offense fell out of sync, and the Blue Devils pulled away to close it out.
Degenkolb tallied seven boards to go along with his 39 and Kellen Woods was next with six points.
“It was two good basketball teams that played really hard,” Benter said. “They had the best player on the floor tonight (Degenkolb). We knew he was tremendous. He just willed them to win. He hit a really tough shot at the end. If he missed, we would have rebounded and probably won the basketball game.”
McCory tallied 16 points, Carson Lambring had 13 and Cam Shoemaker notched 11.
“Our will to win was tremendous tonight,” Benter said. “(Tipton) controlled the whole game. Our guys fought and fought and fought to claw our way back at the end.
In the first quarter, after trailing 4-0, the Blue Devils went on a 12-0 run behind seven points by Degenkolb from the 5:50 to 2:47-mark.
McCory ended Tipton’s run and recorded six straight points of his own while Matthew Nierman added a basket with five ticks on the clock to bring Brownstown within one — at 13-12 — to end the quarter.
The Braves struggled to find their offense in the second quarter, recording just one field goal and going five-for-seven from the free throw line.
During that eight-minute stretch, Degenkolb scored 11 of his team’s 12 points before halftime to take a 25-19 advantage. Degenkolb had 18 points at the half.
McCory picked up his fourth foul with 6:05 left in the third quarter, but Brownstown didn’t sputter.
The Braves forced four early Tipton turnovers and converted two of those opportunities with a basket by Shoemaker and a 3-pointer by Lambring to narrow the deficit to 25-24.
Degenkolb then reeled off six straight points, and the Blue Devils led 33-29 after three quarters.
In a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter, Brownstown took the lead with 4:12 left in regulation on a pair of free throws by Shoemaker.
Leading up to those freebies, Lambring got it done from the field hitting a 3-pointer and converting a steal into a layup.
Degenkolb retook the lead on the next possession for Tipton by hitting two from the charity stripe, and Lukas Swan extended the Blue Devils’ lead to 43-40 at 2:12 with a pair of free throws, setting up the final theatrics.
Benter said a few things kept the Braves from the win.
“We talked all morning about discipline and taking good shots on offense and having good shots on every possession, and we didn’t play that way. We turned the ball over too much, missed some blockouts on the defensive end and (Degenkolb) had a tremendous game.”
Brownstown won the battle of the boards 33-29 behind five rebounds each from McCory and Nierman.
With the loss, the Braves move to 9-1 on the season.
“I think we needed that (game) — whether it’s the loss or the challenge,” Benter said. “Maybe a loss is good for us. We’ve seen a more disciplined team. Silver Creek and Charlestown are going to be that way. We’ve got to make sure we’re getting it shored up and I think our guys will.”