By Jake Thompson
Hendricks County Flyer
BROWNSBURG — For three quarters the Brownsburg boys’ basketball team hung with two-time defending state champion Carmel Wednesday night. However, it was the fourth quarter that sealed the Bulldogs’ fate.
Carmel outscored Brownsburg 25-10 in the fourth to take a 54-41 win over the hosts in each team's 2013 opener.
Though first-year coach Steve Lynch would have liked a victory, he was pleased with what he saw from a transitioning Bulldogs' team.
“Carmel has a great system to rely on and there were so many positives tonight but when it came time to win, we just didn’t have enough in a lot of areas,” Lynch said. “We didn’t defend well enough, didn’t rebound, couldn’t put the ball in the net and there are great learning lessons there. We were tested by the best team in the state.”
With Brownsburg ahead 31-29 heading into the fourth, it looked to be either team’s game. Carmel came out on an 11-0 run and never trailed the rest of the way, extending its lead to 13 points with less than two minutes remaining.
“I thought Carmel really asserted themselves in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter and we didn’t respond,” Lynch said.
Free throws propelled Carmel past Brownsburg down the stretch as the Greyhounds converted 17 of 20 attempts. Carmel’s Michael Bruns, who had two points for the first three quarters, scored one basket and made 17 of 18 attempts from the charity stripe, finishing with a game-high 20 points.
“In the second half we made a little run and hit some free throws down the stretch,” Carmel coach Scott Heady said.
Brownsburg’s K.J. Walton scored all nine of the Bulldogs’ first quarter points, but Brownsburg trailed 10-9 after one period of play.
Walton would finish with team-high 17 points and drew Carmel’s Zach McRoberts — brother of NBA player Josh McRoberts — for most of the night in a two-sided defensive battle.
"Zach forced (KJ) into some tough shots on the perimeter,” Heady said. “They are different players but are big time players that went after it.”
Brownsburg played its best basketball in the second quarter as four Bulldogs —Trevor Lucas, Darrian Ringo, Kyle Thompson and Walton — scored and the defense held Carmel to eight points.
“We were struggling offensively in the first half because they were mixing up their defenses,” Heady said. “They were things you work on a little at this time of year but not a lot. It was a little frustrating in the first half.”
Thompson made it 15-14 with 4:16 left in the half and Brownsburg led 20-14 before two late Carmel baskets closed the gap to two at the break.
“We’ve put so much in and I don’t know that we executed any of it well but we have a lot of things we can do,” Lynch said. “I thought the kids were great. We would change and rarely would we mess ourselves up.”
Two Carmel turnovers to begin the third led to a 4-0 Brownsburg run. Carmel recorded 16 turnovers, 14 in the first three quarters.
Brownsburg hosts Southport at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.