MT. ORAB – The Western Brown Broncos captured the Brown County Holiday Tournament with a win over the Fayetteville Rockets 59-54 in what become a nail biter.
“It feels good, we’ve been wanting to win one for awhile,” Western Brown head coach Greg Foster said.
The Broncos played as well for Foster as he could ask in the first half. Led by Joe Sams, the Broncos built a solid 20 point lead over the Rockets. Sams helped lead a defensive charge that kept the Rockets at bay in the first half. Western Brown limited Fayetteville to just one opportunity down the court in the first half of the game.
“Last night we played an up-and-down game and it wasn’t a game for Joe’s style,” Foster said. “Tonight was for Joe and he went in and took advantage of the situation. Fortunately for us we had Joe there to rebound and get buckets when he was down there. They were hanging on him every time.”
Sams led the Broncos in scoring with 17 points during the contest of which 15 came in the first half of play. He played particularly well in the second quarter, dropping 13 points in the quarter. Not only was he an offensive threat in the first half, his big body helped forced Fayetteville into some poor shots and limited them to just on opportunity to score each trip down.
Fayetteville could not get anything going in the first half. The slow start was plagued by poor shooting and not having an answer for Sams in the low post. The Rockets scoring threats of Max Iles, Max Lanham, and Cole Schaefer were limited in the fist half to just eight total points. Their lackluster shooting and defense did no favors for them as they put themselves in a deep hole early on.
But in the second half, the Rockets made their charge. The squad went on a 16-2 run and pulled within five points at 51-46 with 2:33 remaining in the game. After Chaiten Tomlin was fouled, hitting one of his free-throws, Sams was called for a foul that put Schaefer at the line. He hit both shots to draw the Rockets even closer at 52-48.
Roughly one minute later, Schaefer struck again, hitting a three-pointer that pulled Fayetteville within just one point. But Lanahm fouled Logan Nickell, who hit both shots to give the Broncos a three-point lead. Tomlin and Butler each added baskets for the Broncos to increase the margin to six points at 57-51.
Lanham’s three-pointer gave Fayetteville hope, pulling them within three points with two seconds left, but the Rockets ensuing foul of Tomlin led to two more points for the Broncos, who would hold on for the victory.
The tournament win was Western Brown’s seventh overall but first since 2008. It was a nail-biter, and Foster said he thought his Broncos got too relaxed in the second half and it opened the door for Fayetteville’s charge.
“I think when we got the lead we got a little bit too comfortable,” Foster said. “We started to take some ill-advised shots and we started making some bad passes because of the pressure they put on us. We didn’t do that in the first half. We came out in the second half and gave them the ball back.”
Lanham led the charge for Fayetteville down the stretch by hitting three three-point field goals in the forth quarter and was helped out by Iles and Schaefer. The trio scored 37 of Fayetteville’s 54 points in the game.
Logan Nickel, Chaiten Tomlin, and Sams were the Broncos in double figures on the evening. Foster said the win is a huge boost of confidence moving forward. After losing a few league games, he said he hoped the back-to-back wins will get them back on track for the rest of the season.