Brownstown Central boys basketball coach Dave Benter never planned to feature 10 seniors on one of the school’s roster.
However, for the 2016-17 season, Benter — in his 19th year at Brownstown Central — made the exception.
Of their 12 varsity players listed, there’s just one junior and a single sophomore taking to the hardwood.
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The rest? They’ve served the program all the way through their final year at Brownstown Central.
It’s the most seniors ever on a Benter-coached team at Brownstown Central.
“You don’t necessarily want 10 seniors in a perfect world,” Benter said. “But, this is an example of what high school basketball should be about. Guys are coming together as a team. They’re getting along well and spending time getting better on their game. They’ve waited for their time through the years.”
The Class 3A No. 7-ranked Braves have a perfect 9-0 record on the season, mirroring the 2015-16 season’s start which ended with a 21-4 record.
Brownstown Central lost three of its top talents to graduation — Zach McCory, Jacoby Shade and Cam Shoemaker — coming into the season, but it hasn’t slowed their success.
This week, the Braves are coming off their biggest win of the season, a Graber Post Buildings Classic Championship victory against Class 2A No. 1 Barr-Reeve.
Outside of their on-court play, other teams have taken notice of the veteran squad.
“I think whenever another team sees we have 10 seniors on the roster, they think they’re in for a battle when they step in on to the court,” senior Andrew Murphy said.
Brownstown Central senior Jordan Peters said that rotating-in a handful of players wears the opposition down.
“Being able to keep going in long games makes a difference,” he said. “Having legs at the end of the fourth quarter and also being able to play different guys in the first three. It helps that you get to have your best five guys in the final minutes.”
Many of the current players are now finding time previously unseen.
“In some ways, it’s unique because some of these guys have paid their dues,” Benter said. “A lot of them played (junior varsity) last year. They’re an example of what you want a high school basketball player to be. They take on different roles and have been patient. It’s kind of tough, but with the way we’ve played this year, we’ve been able to get guys minutes.
He said that the group has the right attitude towards playing time.
“We anticipated that this would be a large senior class, but I was shocked that 10 of them stuck it out and kept pushing through,’ Benter said. “In today’s society, a lot of people want instant gratification. We’ve had a lot of success with guys who have played JV as juniors.
Sometimes, I think it’s good for kids to learn life lessons: they have to work. We’ve had freshmen and sophomores ready for varsity and juniors who weren’t. It’s neat these guys have stuck together and built chemistry. It’s exciting to see as a coach.”
This season, the Braves are averaging 73.8 points per game while allowing 58.3.
Cody Waskom leads the team, and Jackson County, with 20.5 points per game, Carson Lambring puts up 16.8 points on average and Ty Maxie scores 9.7 per contest.
In games, Benter has often played nine to 10 different boys in the first quarter.
However, each situation warrants different substitutions.
“Some of it’s foul trouble,” Benter said, adding that the style of play has attributed to fouls. “Some nights it’s to see who is the better match up against different teams. Different guys play better against different styles. A lot of basketball is match-ups — how you match up with them and how they match up with you.”
By the game’s end, all 12 players will typically have logged time.
“Our guys have been really receptive to understanding that some guys will play more in certain games,” Benter said. “For example, Cameron Eggersman played as well as anyone against Barr-Reeve and Kyle Kramer came in and played really well against North Daviess. Cody (Waskom), Carson (Lambring) and Gavin (Bane) have been three guys who have all had big games for us. We have a lot of guys who play really important roles during games.”
Senior Ty Maxie said the seniors are a close-knit group.
“We’ve always loved the game and each other,” he said. “We’ve stuck together.”.
While the Braves have found success this season, they’re trying to stay even-keeled.
“The old saying is that you can never feel too high or low,” Benter said. “Last year, we were undefeated coming off Graber Post and had a successful second half of the season before getting upset in sectional. We want them to be hungry and not satisfied.”