Braves defend home court, best rival Owls

For the first time since the 2004-05 season, the Brownstown Central girls basketball team has bragging rights over the Seymour Owls.

The Braves (7-2) held home court Thursday night, as they were victorious 51-46 over its Jackson County rivals.

The Braves found themselves on the winning side of a fourth quarter shootout.

In the opening minutes of the fourth, the Owls (7-2) and Braves were tied at 40 a piece after Seymour scored a quick eight points that tied the Braves. That’s when the Braves unleashed a series of possessions that kept the Owls out of the game.

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Halle Hehman, who led the Braves in scoring with 18 points, made a 3-pointer along with Tayler Garland.

Ashley Schroer added a basket to build an eight-point advantage the Owls never did overcome.

Braves coach Karla Rieckers said the moment was huge for the team and it was a testament of the mental toughness of her team.

“This groups of girls, they just never quit; they play hard and just never give it up,” she said. “I can’t say enough about them.”

Owls coach Jason Longmeier said the Braves crushed his team’s momentum in the way they responded after the game was tied.

“I think when you spend time when you’re fighting back and they do that, it kind of takes the wind out of your sails,” he said. “We have to be tougher than that and be able to overcome that.”

In the opening quarter, both teams struggled from the line and both had a handful of turnovers.

The Owls did not record a field goal until the 4:16 mark when Aidan Hiester hit one of her two 3-pointers in the quarter.

The Owls used the three to build a narrow lead at the end of the first as Ashton Chase added one to Hiester’s two.

The Braves had an opportunity to have more command, but missed four free throws in the opening quarter.

The Braves led 5-3 midway through the quarter, but Seymour’s long ball kept them ahead.

The quarter ended with a close 12-11 lead in favor of the Owls.

The second quarter began with both teams keeping the pace with high energy.

The Owls struck first with a layup from Hiester, but scoring stalled for the Owls and the Braves scored 10 unanswered points behind two baskets and a 3-pointer from Madison Klinge.

Hehman also added a three pointer during the stretch.

Both teams traded baskets and the Owls began to work their way back to cut into the Braves’ lead on a jumper from Jami Nobbe and free throws from Hiester to bring the score to 23-20 with a minute left in the half.

Ashley Schroer hit a difficult lay up with less than 10 seconds left in the half to put the Braves up 25-20 at halftime.

Hehman and Hiester led both of their teams with 10 points at the half.

In the opening minutes of the second half the Owls were able to score eight points while the Braves turned the ball over four times, but maintained the lead with baskets from Klinge, Payton Farmer and Schroer.

After trading a few baskets, Fee scored seven straight for the Owls. Her final basket during the stretch was a steal at midcourt and layup to bring the Owls within one at 33-32 to force a timeout by the Braves with 2:02 left in the third quarter.

Both teams exchanged turnovers before Hehman hit a three that generated a loud response from the crowd. Shelby Stuckwisch added a basket to give the Braves a 38-32 lead at the end of the quarter.

Longmeier said his team played hard, but did not execute the way he wanted to on offense.

“In the first half we had no movement,” he said. “We were just waiting on other people to do the job after screens.”

In the second half, he said his team struggled defensively that gave an advantage to the Braves.

“We just weren’t solid defensively,” he said.

Rieckers said she was glad to “get the monkey off the back” and defeat the Owls, but that the game is always one where she expects great competition.

“It’s always a great rivalry game for us,” she said.

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Jordan Richart is a correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.