By CHRIS STONER
NEW SALISBURY — It wasn’t climbing Mount Everest, but it was really close. Silver Creek knocked off Class 3A No. 7 Brownstown Central 37-36 on Saturday to claim the North Harrison Sectional championship.
Sophomore Christian Reed calmly sank two free throws with four seconds remaining, the Braves (20-4) last-second shot rimmed off, and the Dragons (15-8) hoisted the sectional trophy for the first time since 2000.
“I’ve dreamed about this since I was in high school,” said Silver Creek head coach Brandon Hoffman, whose team won its first class 3A sectional title. “We’re talking about almost 20 years ago. I wanted to come back to Silver Creek and coach and win a sectional for the school, the community and for my family. It’s even better than I imagined.”
The Creekers defeated three ranked teams in four days at North Harrison, two of which – Corydon Central and Brownstown Central – had beaten them in the last two week of the regular season.
“We’re a totally different than we were last week,” Hoffman said. “Total buy in to things happened. The guys on the bench huddled up together and everybody picking each other up on the court. We played as one for a week for the first time all season.”
After hitting an amazing 19 of 20 free throws — all in the last six minutes of the game — in their semifinal blowout of sixth-ranked Corydon – the Dragons connected on 16 of 19 foul shots versus Brownstown. None were bigger than Reed’s only two attempts of the game.
“I was just trying think about to make this like every other free throw I’ve shot,” he said after he was fouled going for a rebound on Creek’s final possession. “Once you get through the noise, it’s just like every other free throw.”
Reed was held to just one field goal by the Braves’ stingy defense and was pounded on underneath all night. However, the youngest member of the Dragons’ starting five stayed focus through it all to swish the game winning freebies.
“We told him that he was going to get beat on pretty bad tonight,” Hoffman said. “For him to stay in there and keep battling shows a lot of maturity. He’s only a sophomore but he’s really mature.”
Brownstown’s Austin Snodgrass, who led all scorers with 15, hit a triple and then had a put back to give his team a 26-21 lead with 3:22 left in the third quarter. You could sense that one more basket from the favored Braves could spell doom for Creek.
“When we played them last week, it was a four-point game at halftime,” Hoffman said. “We were in that same position and they went boom, boom, boom – three straight 3s on us. In the huddle tonight when they got that lead, we said ‘Here we are – the same position.’ This time we punched back instead of getting knocked out.”
Nick Tinsley led the sectional champs with nine points. The junior guard was a perfect 6 of 6 on free throws, which followed up a 10 of 10 performance in Friday night’s semifinal win.
“We made our free throws, made big shots, went after all the loose balls, and it came out really good for us,” he said. “After [Brownstown] beat us [in the regular season], we were told to get it out of our head, but to also remember it because we knew we were going to get another shot at them. We got it and it ended up the way wanted it to.”
The near-impossible sectional task of beating three ranked teams in four days may seem like child’s play compared to Silver Creek’s first-round Washington Regional opponent, No. 1 and defending state champion Greensburg. However, for now, the Dragons are more than happy to soak in their 12th sectional crown.
“We’ve done something here to really be proud of,” Hoffmans said. “We’ve had so many hurdles thrown at us all year. We’ve had our ups and downs, some injuries and other stuff, but it’s all about coming together at the right time and we did it.”
Silver Creek will play the Pirates in the first semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday morning at the Hatchet House in Washington.
CLASS 3A NORTH HARRISON SECTIONAL
SILVER CREEK 37, BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL 36
Brownstown 10 8 10 8—36
Silver Creek 11 8 7 11—37
Brownstown Central (20-4): Chaz Schneider 11, Austin Snodgrass 15, Cole Borden 3, Cam Shoemaker 2, Jacoby Shade 5.
Silver Creek (15-8): Nick Tinsley 9, Brooks Howell 3, Shae Durham 2, Zach Davidson 4, Jake Steele 4, Gabe Bauer 8, Sam Garr 3, Christian Reed 4.
3-point field goals: Brownstown Central 5 (Schenider 2, Snodgrass 2, Borden), Silver Creek 3 (Tinsley, Howell, Bauer).
Rebounds: Brownstown Central 24, Silver Creek 24.
Turnovers: Brownstown Central 6, Silver Creek 7.
Field goal shooting: Brownstown Central 13-37, Silver Creek 9-30.
3-point shooting: Brownstown Central 5-16, Silver Creek 3-8.
Free throw shooting: Brownstown Central 5-6, Silver Creek 16-19.