By John Lachmann
ALEXANDRIA, Ky. – Brossart is one of Northern Kentucky’s smaller schools in terms of enrollment, but its ample size played a major role in the boys’ basketball team’s district tournament run.
The Mustangs’ forwards, led by senior Justin Saunders’ 32 points, were no match for Scott in a 62-44 win in the District 37 final at Campbell County Middle School on Thursday.
“I just had the mentality that I wanted to win tonight, and I’d do anything for it,” Saunders said.
Saunders and fellow forwards juniors Drew Burns and Alex Trentman combined for 55 of the Mustangs’ 62 points. All three were named to the all-tournament team, with Saunders earning MVP honors.
The Eagles led by one after the first quarter, but after Brossart junior center Drew Burns scored off a pass by senior guard Ben Uebel 15 seconds into the second frame, Saunders scored the Mustangs’ final 14 points of the period to give his team a six-point halftime lead.
Saunders hit six field goals over a five-minute span and drained a pair of free throws with 1:19 left in the half.
Scott senior forward Nick Jackson scored six unanswered points in the first 2:47 of the third quarter to tie the score, forcing Brossart to call time out.
“We switched up a couple different guys guarding him and we emphasized the points we made in the first half, keeping things tight, keeping things pinched,” Code said.
Burns came out of the stoppage with a basket to start a personal 6-2 run, giving the Mustangs a 35-31 lead.
The Eagles responded with a 3-pointer by senior guard Kevin Jehn, and after Brossart was unable to score, Scott senior guard Josh Felts was fouled and hit both free throws to give the Eagles their first lead since the opening seconds of the second quarter, 36-35.
Scott tried to sit on the ball for a final shot, but the plan backfired as the team turned the ball over in the paint and Saunders buried a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left. Eagles junior forward Kameron Crim capped off the quarter with a layup to tie the score at 38.
While Scott was able to hang with Brossart for the first three quarters, the final stanza was a different story.
Saunders kicked a pass out to Uebel for a 3-pointer, then hit a pair of free throws on the Mustangs’ next possession. Burns followed with a basket to extend Brossart’s lead to seven before a 3-point play by Jehn cut the lead to four.
Saunders hit consecutive field goals to make it 49-41, and Felts knocked down a trey to trim the Eagles’ deficit to five, but those would be the last points they would score.
Saunders scored while being fouled, and he converted the ensuing free throw. The Mustangs followed by hitting eight more unanswered foul shots to put the game out of reach. Brossart scored the final 15 points of the game.
“That’s how we play in practice,” Saunders said. “How we play in practice is what prepares us for the game, so that’s why we won.”
The Mustangs finished 13-for-14 from the foul line, draining all 11 of their attempts in the fourth quarter. Saunders went 7-of-8.
“It’s nice when you can go to the foul line and extend the lead rather than let them back in the game, and that’s really what one of the keys was,” Code said. “It stayed around six-to-eight, six-to-eight, six-to-eight, then we got a couple stops and we were able to extend when they missed some free throws.”
Burns tallied 14 points, and junior forward Alex Trentman added nine points and 10 rebounds, including four foul shots in the final two minutes to help seal the game.
“Obviously Justin was spectacular tonight, I thought Drew and Alex really battled on the boards, gave us a lot of production,” Brossart coach Mike Code said. “(Scott’s) a tough team. They’re well-coached, they guard, they run some stuff, Jackson’s a tremendous player, so I was real happy that we were able to come out of this with any win, let alone one where we got away from them a little bit.
“Justin carried us for a lot of the game, Drew had a period where he carried us, Alex – rebounding down there Alex was phenomenal the last three or four minutes.”
Felts paced the Eagles with 17 points, 10 of which came in the first quarter.
Both teams advance to the Region 10 tournament next week at Mason County.
SCOTT (14-14): Buckner 2 0 4, Felts 6 2 17, Jackson 5 0 10, Ohmer 1 0 3, Jehn 3 1 8, Crim 1 0 2. Totals 18 3 44.
BROSSART (25-5): Uebel 1 4 7, Saunders 12 7 32, Trentman 3 2 9, Burns 7 0 14. Totals 23 13 62.
3-pointers: B—Uebel, Saunders, Trentman. S—Felts 3, Ohmer, Jehn.
All-tournament team: Billy Miller (Silver Grove), Nick Whitt (Calvary Christian), Nate McGovney (Campbell County), Eric Pouncy (Scott), Nick Jackson (Scott), Drew Burns (Brossart), Alex Trentman (Brossart).
Most valuable player: Justin Saunders (Brossart).