By Justin Whitaker
BROWNSBURG — For the first time in 12 years, the Brownsburg girls’ basketball team are sectional champions.
The Bulldogs held Pike to 30 percent shooting and won 51-45 to claim the sectional crown.
“I don’t think there was ever a doubt in their mind that they were going to win,” Brownsburg coach Amy Brauman said of her team. “You’ve got to love this bunch because they went out and did it.”
After three straight postseasons of being bounced by Ben Davis, Brownsburg (20-3) has earned its rightful redemption.
“These girls have worked hard, done everything we asked them to do and they definitely deserved to win this,” Brauman said. “The great thing about it is they believed they were going to win.”
Senior Stephanie Mavunga willed the Bulldogs to victory with game-highs of 25 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks.
“This is a big deal,” Mavunga said. “We’ve worked so hard and we deserve it.”
After cutting down her celebratory portion of the net, the North Carolina-bound senior signed autographs and took pictures with a handful of eager middle-school aged fans. Mavunga was able to soak in what she called her favorite memory playing basketball at Brownsburg.
“I don’t know how to explain it to you,” Mavunga said. “I’m trying to find the words and I have to say, it is more than amazing, it’s fantastic.”
Brownsburg led 24-17 at halftime but had another third quarter funk. Pike (18-5) went on a 9-2 to run to tie the score at 28-28.
With things looking dreary for the Bulldogs, their go-to player took over the game. The 6-foot-4 forward drove right from the top of the key, was fouled and laid it in. Mavunga converted the three-point play and went on to score 15 straight Brownsburg points between the third and fourth quarters.
Brauman believed Mavunga helped prove a point during that stretch.
“Stephanie is Miss Basketball,” Brauman said. “She stepped up over this sectional and proved to everybody in the gym that she should be Miss Basketball. She kind of carried us there for a while and we needed her to. That’s what she’s done for us all season.”
During Mavunga’s 15 straight points, the Bulldogs did everything they could to get her the ball.
“It was just awesome,” Brownsburg senior Kayle Comer said. “She was just finishing shots and she played really well tonight.”
All of the Bulldogs could take part in the celebration after experiencing the tough postseason losses of season’s past.
“Losing the past three seasons has been heartbreaking,” Comer said. “Beating Ben Davis last night and beating Pike tonight is just unbelievable, it feels amazing.”
For Brauman, the win helps validate all of the former Bulldogs’ hard work since returning to Brownsburg to coach six years ago.
“I think it means a lot to our program,” the 1991 Indiana All-Star said. “We’ve kind of started out not winning many games and we’ve had a lot of girls along the way to help build this program up. It’s a huge hurdle that we had to get over.”