There’s no denying which team stands above the rest in the Mid-Southern Conference — they’ve largely dominated the competition for more than a decade.
With a 69-34 victory against Eastern (Pekin) on Friday night, the Class 3A No. 1 Brownstown Central’s boys basketball team finished undefeated in MSC play at 9-0 for the second consecutive year.
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The Braves have won 23 straight MSC contests to go along with the back-to-back titles, and it’s the sixth time Brownstown has gone undefeated under coach Dave Benter.
It’s the 10th MSC title in the past 14 years for the Braves, and seventh outright crown in that same span.
Brownstown hasn’t lost an MSC game since Jan. 16, 2015 (Silver Creek).
Brownstown now holds 18 MSC championship titles in school history.
“It’s kind of the one thing during the season you can play for outside of the holiday tournament,” Benter said.
“I think we’re in one of the better Class 3A conferences around, with 10 teams. One of our goals is to win conference, and it’s a grind.
It takes consistency, and I think our guys have shown that throughout the year.”
In the first quarter the Braves (20-1) dominated the defensive end of the court, holding the Musketeers (4-16, 1-8 MSC) to just six points.
The Braves opened on a 6-0 run, led by a pair of baskets by Carson Lambring.
From the 3:20 to 1:05-mark, the Braves put up 15 unanswered points behind five different scorers. Cody Waskom topped the Braves with five points in the stretch.
After eight minutes, the Braves held a 21-6 advantage.
The Musketeers started the second quarter on a 6-0 run, but BC would answer and again lock-in on defense.
In the final five minutes of the half, the Braves outscored the Musketeers 16-3 — including a 10-0 scoring string — to lead 45-17 at intermission.
At halftime, the Braves made 18 of 32 field-goal attempts while holding the Musketeers to six baskets on 23 attempts.
“I think our guys did a really nice job getting back in transition and not giving up layups,” Benter said of the defensive pressure. “In our half court trap, I thought we didn’t rotate enough early a couple times. But as the game went on we did a better job of doing that.”
BC continued to play with high energy out of the break, outscoring the Musketeers 14-2 by 4:26.
Limiting the Musketeers to eight third quarter points, and finishing on a 6-0 run, the Braves held a 65-25 lead after 24 minutes.
The Braves got every player involved and coasted through the last eight minutes with the win secured.
Waskom led the Braves with 18 points and Lambring scored 16.
On the night, the Braves shot 45 percent to the Musketeers’ 28 percent.
Parker Wallingford topped Pekin with 12 points and Connor Marshall had 10.
The Musketeers amassed 19 turnovers to the Braves’ 11.
Tonight, the Braves will travel to Class 2A No. 2 Providence.
Benter said that the Braves will have to play well for all 32 minutes to pick up their 21st win of the 2016-17 season.
“It’s a really tough matchup,” he said. ‘They’re similar to us: they have great guard play and a couple athletic bigs on the inside that can score, rebound and defend. Defensively, they’re very disruptive. They’re smart and experience. We know we will need to go over there and play really well to win.”