Since the tournament’s inaugural games in 2006, no team has won the Graber Post Buildings Classic three straight years at North Daviess High School.
Tonight, Brownstown Central will get a crack at a three-peat in Elnora.
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With a 61-51 victory against North Daviess on Thursday, the Braves (8-0) punched a ticket to the championship bout.
Brownstown’s shots from the perimeter fell early, with Ty Maxie hitting a pair of 3-pointers and Cody Waskom also sinking a trey. The Braves led 9-8 with 3:44 on the clock.
A 3 from Colter Trueblood and a basket from Caleb Wagler gave the Cougars (7-3) the lead back until the Braves closed the first quarter on an 8-3 run behind three different scorers.
After eight minutes, the Braves, who played nine boys on the floor total, led 17-16.
Defensive full-court pressure from the Braves stifled the Cougars in the second quarter, as the home team only accounted for six points.
Meanwhile, the hot shooting from outside continued for the Braves, as three of their first four makes came on 3-pointers.
From the 4:18 to 1:39 mark, the Braves scored eight unanswered points — with half of those coming from Carson Lambring — to lead 33-19.
The Cougars’ Jalen Knepp hit one from deep to conclude the first-half scoring, but the Braves led 33-22.
At halftime, the Cougars had turned the ball over 11 times to the Braves’ one giveaway.
“We kept track of how many times we attacked the lane, and we were being really aggressive,” Braves coach Dave Benter said of the second quarter play. “I thought Kyle Kramer came in and played some huge minutes against their zone. We didn’t play him quite as much in the second half because they switched up their defense, but we got some really good minutes out of him and our bench in that second quarter.”
North Daviess shot the lights out in the third quarter, but Brownstown never trailed.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Trueblood cut the Cougars’ deficit to 38-31 at 5:27.
The Braves responded with an 8-0 run, consisting of an and-one conversion and a field goal by Waskom and a 3-pointer from Derek Rieckers.
Trueblood added another basket from distance and Wagler hit his lone 3 of the game right before the buzzer, and the Cougars trailed 50-42 after 24 minutes.
“They went against our press a little better,” Benter said. “They hit some really tough, deep, contested 3-pointers. It seemed like they were shooting an incredible percentage for a little while. We were having a really hard time stopping them.”
When someone needed to step up, Waskom took his game to another level in the final quarter.
The senior accounted for nine of the Braves’ final 11 points.
Waskom outscored the Cougars 9-5 through four minutes before Michael Boshears made a layup at 2:13 to put the Braves up 61-48.
Brownstown allowed one more 3-pointer but held on to pick up the win.
Trueblood led the Cougars with 15 points, Wagler had 13 and Cody Phillips chipped in 12.
Waskom, coming off a 30-point performance against Evansville Reitz, topped the Braves with 27 points, and Maxie added 13.
“The thing that I really liked was that (Waskom) wasn’t just doing things on offense. He was guarding,” Benter said. “He exerted a lot of energy on both ends of the floor. We need that from him. When he’s locked in, he’s really hard to guard.”
The Braves dominated the boards, outrebounding the Cougars 28-13, and had fewer turnovers at 14-9.
The Braves will play in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. today. Their opponent will be the winner of Thursday night’s late game between Pike Central and Barr-Reeve.