MT. ORAB – Coming off a Brown County Holiday Classic championship, the Western Brown Broncos took to the court against Augusta (KY) looking to start the second half of the season on a high note.
Streaky offensive production and defensive efforts would doom the Broncos, however, and the team dropped to 4-7 on the season with a 66-52 loss to the Panthers.
The Broncos trailed by just one point after the first quarter, thanks in large part to Joe Sams. Sams scored nine points in the quarter, but would be limited to just four the rest of the game. The Panthers poured on the offense in the second quarter, putting up 21 points to take a 39-28 lead into halftime.
The Broncos scored the first bucket of the third quarter to cut the lead to single digits, but the Panthers went on a 8-0 run that lasted until Chaiten Tomlin hit a three-pointer from the right corner with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
Western Brown then went on a run of their own, cutting the lead back down to single digits at 47-39 before Augusta’s Connor Maddox hit a two-point shot to break the skid. Western Brown head coach Greg Foster said the team’s defense allowed them to get back in the game, but ultimately the lack of defense cost the squad late.
“We played a little bit of defense,” Foster said. “The third and fourth quarter, there were spurts where we played a little bit of defense but that was the tale of the tape in the first quarter and the first half. We were giving up the middle and letting guys drive. We were stepping up to help, but we were stepping up with our hands down and they were making passes by our ears and by our knees. It was just too easy for them.”
The Broncos would get no closer than 12 points behind the rest of the game, and at one point trailed by as much as 19. Tomlin then scored seven points in 90 seconds to get the squad back on track.
Tomlin’s 23 points lead Western Brown. Sams finished with 13 and Hunter O’hara added 10 more for the Broncos. Wyatt Fischer and Brandon Butler chipped in four and two, respectively.
Maddox led both teams with 24 points and was one of four Panthers who finished in double-figures. Jared Shoemaker scored 14 while Tanner Pugh and Camryn Snapp each tallied 11. Owens Crawford scored six points for Augusta.
Foster was all praise for the Panthers, complimenting the squad on their play but also noting his team still could have won the game.
“Augusta’s a really good basketball team,” Foster said. “They’re really smart, really disciplined and if we’d played smarter defense in the first half it’d have been a different story, but it didn’t happen.”
Part of the Broncos’ problem in the second half was shot selection, which led to the large deficit the team faced.
“You don’t get beat like that without forcing shots,” Foster said. “We had opportunities around the basket and we missed them. We didn’t make the easy ones. We had our moments when we took some good shots. When we ran our offense, we did a good job of executing but there’s times where we forget what we’re doing and we get a little frustrated and that’s when you start forcing the shots.”
Luckily for the Broncos, the problem has a simple fix, according to Foster.
“It’s pretty simple: don’t take a bad shot,” Foster said. “If you’re falling away from the basket, or if you’re 50 feet away from the basket, or if there’s a guy in your face and you can’t score with a guy in your face, you don’t take that shot. There were times tonight where we had guys in their face, but the difference is they can score with guys in their face. We have a hard time doing that.”
Western Brown will remain home for the team’s Homecoming contest against Lynchburg-Clay Saturday, Jan. 9. The team faces Glen Este Wednesday, Jan. 13 before hitting the road for four straight games.
“We have to do us,” Foster said. “Lynchburg’s very good. They play very disciplined, they play very hard. We’ll have a game-plan going in but…We have to be ready to play.”
Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or follow him on Twitter at @GNDShanklin.