Dylan Jensen, seated on the baseline under the basket with his arms open, peered up at a striped official, waiting for the whistle hundreds of Corydon Central fans never got to hear.
Seconds prior, Jensen appeared to be the likely hero, or at least have a shot at being one. When Corydon Central’s pass up the floor with less than eight seconds to play was picked off by Brownstown Central’s Brett McCory, Jensen stole the ball back.
With the game deadlocked at 41, Jensen fought off a McCory reach-in then was spun by Brownstown Central’s Chaz Schneider, dropping the 6-foot-3 Jensen to the floor. His lay-up attempt fell short, but the contact didn’t draw a whistle, sending the game into overtime.
‘I felt like our kids won the game, but those circumstances are beyond our control,’ Corydon Central coach Jamie Kolkmeier said.
Class 3A No. 4 Brownstown Central would go on to take the lead in the final two minutes of the overtime, eventually winning the Charlestown Sectional, 55-50, Saturday night.
‘The kids played so hard,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘They should be playing next week. We are proud of the effort, and they deserved to win that game.’
Similar to the close of the semi-final game against rival North Harrison, the battle between the Braves and Panthers had a nerve-wrecking final minute.
Brayden Lander hit a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left to put Corydon Central ahead 38-34. In response, McCory drained a deep 3-pointer in front of the Braves’ bench with 17.9 left.
The Corydon Central lead stretched to three when Tommy Wiseman swished a pair at the charity stripe with 15.8 on the clock. Then, Schneider and Corydon Central’s Bronson Kessinger exchanged a single freebie each.
On Brownstown Central’s next possession, McCory brought the ball up the left side and, one step in front of the half-court line, threw up a heave to the basket when the Panthers were whistled for a reach-in.
The senior toed the free-throw line and made all three free throws, evening the game at 41 with 8.4 seconds left. McCory would finished the game with 23 points, going 8 of 8 at the line.
Corydon Central had a shot with Jensen’s attempt, but the horn eventually sounded, sending the contest to overtime.
In the overtime, Kessinger put in a two-handed slam to put the Panthers up 48-45 with three minutes to play. The Panthers, however, would only add one more basket, a Chase Burton put-back.
Meanwhile, Brownstown Central closed the overtime on an 8-2 run. A few Panthers’ turnovers led to opportunities capitalized on by the Braves.
‘It was a great high school game in a great atmosphere,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘We did not help ourselves by missing critical free throws and a couple of costly turnovers late in the game. Overall, I could not be more proud of our players and especially our seniors.’
Neither team was impressive shooting the ball, the main reason being the tight defense from both squads.
Three-pointers by Austin Snodgrass and Schneider helped Brownstown Central lead 13-9 after the opening quarter. The Braves’ lead would grow to 17-9 when Schneider scored a bucket.
In the second quarter, the Panthers lost starting guard Timothy Wiseman to an injury that occurred under the Brownstown Central basket. From that point forward, Corydon Central went with a six-man rotation.
The rotation picked up the defensive intensity after Wiseman went down. Dylan Jensen scored four straight points at one point, helping the Panthers pull within four, 19-15, at the half.
For nearly eight minutes, spanning from the second to third quarters, Brownstown Central was held without a point. While the Corydon Central defense did its job, the Panthers were able to grind out offensive possessions.
Tyler Ross scored after a steal to tie the game at 19. Corydon Central then took its first lead since scoring the opening point, both being a Lander free throw.
Lander and Kessinger added buckets to close the third quarter, allowing the Panthers to lead 24-21.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by the offensive work of Kessinger and McCory making contested shots. Both finished with 23 points, with a bulk coming in the final frame. Kessinger scored 10 in the final quarter, while McCory had 14.
‘The first half, we couldn’t score,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘Our defense kept us in it. Bronson carried us offensively in the second half, but collectively, (Kessinger), Dylan, Chase (Burton), Tyler, Brayden, Tommy, those guys just fought so hard on the defensive end. When we weren’t scoring, but we were still in the game.’
Corydon Central shot slightly better from the field, going 14 of 38 (37 percent), while Brownstown Central went 16 of 44 (36 percent). Lander would finish with 13 points.
‘Both teams played exceptionally hard, defending each extremely well,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘There were very few open shots throughout the game. When Timothy went down, it shortened our rotation and everyone stepped up to the challenge.’
Like much of the sectional, the Panthers struggled from beyond the arc (0 for 9) and at the free-throw line (22 of 34), in the final. It was their defense that gave them a chance at the end.
‘I thought our kids played hard and played their butts off all night,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘Everybody played hard with not very much rest, rotating just six guys.’
The Braves were strong at the line, going 20 of 24. Schneider would reach double figures with 10 points, while Collin DeHart added eight.
Corydon Central graduates three seniors: Ross, Burton and Jensen.
‘Tyler is a great athlete who has matured a great deal since his freshman year,’ Kolkmeier said of Ross, who averaged 11 points per game. ‘This year, he played as hard as any player we have had. Tyler focused on doing what was necessary to win games and developed as a leader by example.’
Kolkmeier said Jensen put in time to become a stronger and faster athlete.
‘Dylan improved a great deal over the past two years and sacrificed personal goals for the good of the team,’ the coach said. ‘He became a very good defender and rebounder and an important piece of a team that won 18 games.’
Burton was another player who sacrificed personal stats for the betterment of the team, according to Kolkmeier.
‘(Burton) became the one player willing to sacrifice his body for loose balls and charges more than anyone else,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘For a player that plays such an important and visible role in two other sports (football and baseball) to come in and willingly embrace a role, that is not as easy for the casual spectator to appreciate, is refreshing and exciting.’
The coach also credited manager Sydney Windell for part of the team’s 18-6 season.
‘Sydney will be missed because she does so many things for us behind the scenes that we no longer have a think about,’ he said. ‘We wish all four of these individuals the best in their future endeavors and hope they remain connected with our basketball family.’
Brownstown Central (23-1) advanced to the Washington Regional, where the Braves will face Vincennes Lincoln (18-6).