BY MIKE RILEY
“They’re the No. 4 team in the state for a reason. We played good- they finished better. They’re average winning margin is 25 points.”
Those words by Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman pretty much summed it up as the Silver Creek Dragons were in position late to pull off a major upset before falling to Brownstown Central 49-37 in Tuesday’s opening round of Class 3A, Sectional 30 play at the Charlestown Sports Arena.
Silver Creek (9-12) took its first lead since late in the early on when Shae Durham converted two of two at the line with 4:36 left. The Dragons last lead had been at 5-4.
But as Hoffman said, Brownstown was ranked high in Class 3A and 21-1 for a reason and showed no signs of panic as Chaz Schnider calmly drained a 3-pointer to put the Braves back on top.
And the momentum shifted that quickly as Silver Creek turned the ball over, then missed the front end at the free throw line. The Dragons only managed two points the rest of the way — on two free throws by Jake Steele with 1:23 left.
Skylar Thompson answered with a basket for the Braves, who hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute to seize victory.
The earlier season meeting between the two teams was an entirely different matter as Brownstown won 39-23 on Jan. 11.
“That was a complete offensive debacle,” Hoffman said. “We made 22 turnovers and only scored one point in the third quarter. They really pushed us around.”
Silver Creek improved in more than a few areas Tuesday as they turned the ball over only six times. But that was of little effect as the Braves coughed it up only four times — and none after halftime.
Silver Creek also won the boards 25-22 with Steele grabbing eight.
Brownstown led 11-9 after a quarter with the Dragons getting the last four points of the period on a basket by Zach Davidson and a layup at the buzzer by Durham.
Schneider’s first trey of the night gave the Braves a 20-15 lead just before halftime before Durham hit a long three and was fouled. His free throws helped get Silver Creek within 20-19 at halftime.
Third quarter action saw the Braves Brett McCory get off to a hot start as he outscored the Dragons 8-2 to build a 28-21 lead. Brooks Howell answered with a three for Silver Creek to cut the lead to four, where it stayed as Brownstown led 32-28 at the end of three quarters.
“We knew they would come to play tonight,” said Brownstown coach David Benter. “They’re a difficult team to match up. Our guys didn’t overlook them [and] I can’t complain about my teams effort. They had won six of their last seven games and were playing a lot better. We just made some big plays and got some stops in the end.”
Durham was the only Dragon to finish in double figures with 13 points. McCory led Brownstown with 24 points, Thompson added 14.
Silver Creek will lose four seniors — but only one starter in Durham.
“I told the guys afterwards that other than the outcome they played great. We just weren’t able to hold on in the end,” Hoffman said. “They wore the Dragon uniform proud.
“We have most of our minutes and scoring back next season. Our goal for then is to be where they [the Braves] are now.”