NASHVILLE — Brown County notched its fifth victory of the season Friday, beating Greenwood Christian Academy 63-55, and it came at a time crucial for the Eagles.
The win not only capped off this year’s final contest at home, where they honored five seniors, but it also gives coach Roger Fleetwood’s crew needed momentum heading into upcoming IHSAA tournament action. The Eagles have their regular-season finale Thursday at Edinburgh before Class 3A sectional play begins Feb. 26 at Greencastle.
And with it being Senior Night at Brown County, it was only fitting they led the way, as Tony Goral, Steven Norman and Brayden Cosby combined for 41 of the team’s points and 16 of the squad’s 28 rebounds.
It was the first meeting between the Eagles (5-14) and Cougars (10-9), who registered an 18-3 season last year at the Class A level.
The hosts took a small lead early in the game and maintained it most of the time but could never pull away from a scrappy Cougars crew that had several opportunities to jump in front as time wore down.
In the end, it was timely buckets and solid free-throw shooting that sealed the victory for the Eagles.
“That was a big win for us, and we played it big,” said Fleetwood, who added that his team has lost eight contests in the final minutes this season. “No lead has been safe with us this year, so we treated it like it was a sectional game where you can’t make mistakes down the stretch.”
Brown County did turn the ball over 10 times through the first three periods but committed just one in the final quarter.
Ahead just 24-23 to start the second half, Norman buried a trey at the 6:05 mark and Goral followed with a jumper and a three-point conversion to push the lead to 32-25. Freshman starting point guard Colin Hoskins, who finished with 12 points, sliced through the GCA defense for a layup to give his team its largest lead of the night, 35-27, at the 3:35 mark.
But, as they did earlier in the game, the Cougars stormed back to cut the deficit to three before an offensive putback and free throw by Cosby pushed the lead back to 40-34 to close out the period.
The Eagles finally went up by 10 after Norman sank a pair of charity tosses with 6:16 remaining.
Greenwood Christian made one final rally, pulling to within five at the 3:32 mark, but the larger-school hosts went to the spread offense with two minutes remaining and cashed in either at the stripe or with easy buckets from the over-aggressive Cougar defense.
“We were in the double bonus at two minutes, so we wanted to take advantage of that,” Fleetwood said. “It was another example of where we would could simulate a sectional-type situation, and the guys came through.”
Steven Shanafelt and Josh Brown were the other seniors honored, while junior Luke Huls came off the bench to also contribute key minutes, finishing with 10 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.
Greenwood Christian was paced by Morgan Booher with 17 points, while Gunnar Rastenburg scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.