Brownstown Central had survived the first three phases of the gauntlet; they just needed to make it past one last team.
It was a chance for a little revenge, as it was the team that they lost to prior to going on a seven-game winning streak.
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Unfortunately for the youthful Braves (12-7), they wouldn’t take home the championship at the Toby Yoho Classic in Bloomfield on Tuesday, as Salem (9-7) topped Brownstown Central 34-21.
The first quarter of the finals proved a defensive struggle between the Mid-Southern Conference foes.
A total of four possessions took place in the first two minutes, with both teams turning the ball over after working for a shot.
Salem’s Leah Miller had the first bucket of the game at 4:32 and Shelby Stuckwisch gave the Braves the lead at 3-2 with 3:23 on the clock.
Ansley Walton scored at 41 seconds, and the Lions led 4-3 after one quarter.
The Braves’ Ashley Schroer, and Miller, scored all of the points for both teams in the second quarter.
Miller went on a self-made 6-0 run before Schroer sank four consecutive free throws.
At half, the Lions led 13-7.
On the boards, the Braves had outrebounded the Lions 13-10.
Brownstown outscored Seymour 8-4 in the third quarter – which started on a 5-0 run — with five different scorers getting points for the Braves.
The Lions would score a game-high 17 points in the final eight minutes, hitting eight of 10 free throws down the final three minutes.
Stuckwisch led the Braves with eight points of the bench and Miler led the Lions with 13.
From the line, the Braves finished 7-for-16 on free throws.
“The difference was they made shots and we didn’t,” Braves coach Karla Rieckers said. “Those were shots we made yesterday, four games is tough over two days. You can expect a stamina issues. I thought to have the team, and players we have with our youth, I think that says a lot about the future of our program and where we’re going to be. I think we’re going to continue get better.”
Following the game, it was announced Schroer, a freshman, made the all-tournament team.
Brownstown took home a trophy for their runners-up finish.
“I think we grew as a team,” Rieckers said. “I think, especially the first day, we took teams out of games. I think we’re going to continue improving. We just need to keep growing.”
In the semifinals against Boonville, Brownstown buckled down in the waning minutes to punch their ticket to the finals.
The Braves escaped with a 42-36 victory in the early game.
Brownstown limited the Pioneers to just 20 point through the first three quarters.
The Braves built a 14-6 advantage in the first quarter by finishing on a 6-0 run – in part of four points from Schroer — in the final two minutes of the period.
Both teams played stout defense in the second quarter, but the Braves edged the Pioneers 6-5 to lead 20-11 at half. Right before the buzzer for intermission, Stuckwisch converted an and-one opportunity to fire up the Braves.
The Pioneers rallied in the third quarter, with a 6-0 run from 5:36 to 2:31, to cut the lead to 23-20.
A basket by Grace Jaynes put the Braves up 25-20 after 24 minutes.
The Pioneers took the lead at 28-27 with 5:15 left in the game after scoring six straight points.
The Braves answered with eight unanswered points behind scores from Kristen Stuckwisch, Keeli Darlage and Jaynes.
Up 35-34 with 1:14 left, Darlage took a full court pass and made a layup.
The Braves wouldn’t allow another score, and went three-for-four from the free throw line for the win.
Schroer led the Braves with eight points while Shelby Stuckwisch, Kristen Stuckwisch and Garland each scored six.
Trinity splits games, finishes 10th
Trinity Lutheran placed 10th of 12 teams by Toby Yoho Classic’s end, as they opened Tuesday with a 60-39 win against Eastern Green before falling to South Knox 38-33.
Versus Eastern Greene, the Cougars (5-11) exploded for 24 points in the second quarter to build an early lead by half.
The host school built a 14-11 lead after one quarter, but the Cougars limited the Thunderbirds to 10 points in the second period.
Trinity dominated the Thunderbirds defensively in the third quarter, allowing just four points while adding 14 of their own.
Cougars coach Mike Lang credited the team’s defensive intensity.
“We were aggressive,” Lang said. “Our defense really created our offense, we got a lot of things in transition. Five people on the floor were committed playing defense at all times.
Both teams scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, as the Cougars claimed their first victory of the tourney.
Savannah Harweger topped the Cougars in scoring with 13 points and Abby Hackman finished with 12 points and 13 of the Cougars’ 26 total rebounds.
South Knox topped Trinity 38-33 in the Cougars’ final game.
The first quarter saw the Spartans outscore the Cougars 9-3. A 3-pointer by Whitney Rogers was the Cougars’ only points.
The Cougars would take the lead in the first half, at 15-14, finishing on a 6-0 run.
Both Trinity and South Knox traded baskets through the third quarter, as the teams deadlocked at 25-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Spartans scored six straight points at the start of the fourth quarter, and Trinity wouldn’t get within three points the remainder of the game as SK answered every score.
“The first quarter we missed 11 shots from two to three feet,” Lang said. “We played bad but got the lead at half. We played pretty much the same defense after half, but we didn’t have the same intensity with it. We need to keep the intensity with our rotations.”
Hackman led the Cougars with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Lang wants to see consistent energy from the team moving forward.
“I thought Jodi Goecker played with a heart of a lion today,” he said. “She was out there diving into the benches and on the stage for loose balls. You need to have everyone play with that intensity.
“Biggest takeaway (from the tournament) is that we need to be in better shape to be tournament ready. We have seven games in 15 days coming up. The fatigue caught up to us a little bit, but if you want to win a regional you will need to win two games in one day.”
Trinity Lutheran is 5-11 on the season after finishing 1-3 in tournament play.