By Justin Whitaker
BROWNSBURG — More than half of the players on the Brownsburg girls’ basketball roster have been playing together since before high school.
Some started in middle school and some before that in elementary school. Certainity the familiarity has paid off as the seven Bulldog seniors prepare for the final run of their school-record success over the past four years.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt us,” Brownsburg coach Amy Brauman said. “I think after a while, they know what they can and can’t do. They’re pretty good about making up for someone else’s weakness.”
The current Brownsburg seniors have gone 73-17 in the past four years for an 81.1 winning percentage. They trail only the 1989-92 team (76-15, 83.5 winning percentage) and 1998-2001 team (77-17, 81.9 winning percentage) for the best four-year stretch in Bulldog history.
Stephanie Mavunga, Kayle Comer, Natalie Kroll, Margaret Oles, Lindsey Low, Mackenzie Trout, and Brooke Bronger are each important parts of Brownsburg’s four-year successful span.
“They are seven that you really don’t have to worry about,” Brauman said. “They are not going to get in trouble in school and they’re going to work hard in the weight room ... From a coaching standpoint, that’s what you dream of.”
During the last four years, the Bulldogs swept the Hendricks County Championship each season and won the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic at New Castle with victories over Jeffersonville and Evansville Memorial (the eventual Class 4A and 3A state champions).
The success of the past four seasons has coincided with Mavunga’s play during that span. The North Carolina recruit has been on varsity since her freshman season and broke the school’s all-time scoring record and single-game scoring record this season.
Brauman credits her team’s ability to not care about the attention and only concern themselves with the wins.
“Obviously, Stephanie is a tremendous player and the girls recognize that, but I don’t think anybody really cares who gets the credit,” she said. “They know she’s our go-to person and they’re not afraid to get her the ball. They’re very unselfish and their primary goal is just to win ball games.”
Not only has Brownsburg experienced good times on the court, but the close-knit senior class knows how to have fun off the court as well. The girls listed bus rides, concerts, slumber parties, and team meals as just part of the fun they’ve had together.
“Once you can be friends off the court, it’s easier to be teammates,” Mavunga said.
As the Bulldogs begin the IHSAA tournament tonight against Southport, it’s the beginning of the end for this group.
“I honestly can’t believe it,” said Trout, who plans on studying pharmacy at an undecided college next year. “I still feel like I’m a junior or a sophomore. It’s mind-boggling that we’re going into sectionals during my senior year.”
Comer was able to experience the past four years not only with her classmates but her family as well. Brauman is Comer’s aunt. Kayle’s mother and Amy’s sister, Angee Comer, is an assistant coach for Brownsburg.
“Some practices it’s good, some practices it’s frustrating,” Kayle said. “At the end of the day, they’re your biggest fans, so that’s cool.”
Low has the team’s highest GPA at over 4.0 and names math as her favorite subject. She is undecided on a college for next year but plans to study environmental engineering. Low not only leads in the classroom, but on the court as well.
“I just try and be positive and not get frustrated,” she said.
Bronger serves as the team’s jokester and describes herself as not afraid to be embarrassed, silly, and “pretty awkward.” She believes her humor allows for the rest of the team to geek out at her jokes.
“I just like bringing everybody together and making everybody laugh,” Bronger said. “If things aren’t going well, I like to make sure that everyone is okay and to make somebody laugh is what I strive for.”
Kroll is the only female three-sport athlete at Brownsburg. Volleyball and softball are her other sports.
Not only is her letterman jacket full from recognition in the three sports, but she has swept the mental attitude awards going 10-for-10 during her time as a Bulldog. She credits her upbringing.
“From an early age my parents have always taught me to look at the bright side of things,” Kroll said. “Even when we’re in the moment and it seems like we’re down and losing, there’s always a chance you can come back and win.”
Kroll and Oles have been best friends since kindergarten through growing up and playing sports together. Another thing the duo shares is their involvement in DECA, an organization that helps prepare high school students for futures in business, marketing, and hospitality.
Kroll is the president of DECA at Brownsburg and Oles recently took first place at district for her demonstration. Oles advances to state in March at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.
“They have a bunch of activities there and you learn a lot about marketing and I want to further my education in marketing,” said Oles, who plans on attending Purdue University next year.
The seven seniors are so much more than just guards and forwards on the court.
“They come in and work hard and want to be great basketball players, but we have girls who are great students and involved in a lot of school activities,” Brauman said. “They’re a lot more than just basketball players.”
But like all good things, they must eventually come to an end and the Bulldogs’ beginning of the end starts tonight.
“I kind of compare it to raising kids,” Brauman joked. “You get them to the point where they’re all acting like they’re supposed to and then they leave you.”