Brookfield snapped an 11-game losing streak.
By DOUG CHAPIN
HUBBARD -- The Trumbull Athletic Conference race featured close games all season long. In fact, the two decisive games last Friday, which left Badger and LaBrae as co-champions, both went into overtime.
So it was no surprise Monday night when league members Brookfield and Girard went into overtime in the opening game of the Division III sectional tournament at Hubbard High School -- a tournament in which six of the 11 teams are from the TAC.
Brookfield outscored Girard 11-5 in the extra session, scoring nine points at the foul line, to win 60-54.
Before the Warriors (7-14) could reach overtime, though, they had to overcome a 10-point, fourth quarter Girard lead.
"This win is a tribute to the kids. They never quit all year, they just kept working and working," Brookfield coach Chris Fahndrich said. "We haven't won since Jan. 8, but they kept working and they didn't quit tonight either."
Brookfield, which snapped an 11-game losing streak, was led by Julian Hayes with 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field and a 6-for-7 performance at the line. He added four assists.
The Warriors also got 14 points from Chad Fonagy and 13 from Ted Swogger. The two combined to shoot 7-for-12 from the 3-point line.
The score was tied at 49 after regulation and Brookfield led 54-51 when Hayes came up with a big play.
Teamwork: Girard's Elliot Steverson recorded one of three blocked shots he had in overtime and Dustin Helle came up with the ball for the Indians. But Hayes wrestled the ball away under the basket and was fouled by Helle as he scored. After Hayes completed the three-point play, the Warriors led 57-51 with 1:33 to play.
Girard senior Randy Mason, who also scored 20 points, got the Indians (6-15) back to 57-54 with 48 seconds remaining, but the Warrior defense was up to the task and Hayes made three more free throws down the stretch.
Senior Walter Jones, who scored 15 points, fouled out in the fourth quarter.
"We've played like that all year. We don't seem mentally tough enough to put teams away," Girard coach Mike Delbene said. "We've been just good enough to lose close games. We lost seven games by three points or less."
Brookfield rallied from a 44-34 deficit with 7:10 to play in regulation to tie the score at 46 with 3:46 to play.
With the score knotted at 49, Brookfield gained possession with 35 seconds remaining in regulation and decided to play for the final shot. With less than 10 seconds remaining and guard Jim Litman dribbling in traffic, Fahndrich called a timeout.
Bad timeout timing: Just as the whistle blew, Litman found a way to get off a shot, which swished but did not count. Brookfield then set up a final play, but Adam Daugherty's shot went across the rim.
Fahndrich was able to chuckle about his poorly-timed timeout after the game.
"We kind of joked about it. It was the second time I took a bucket away from one of the kids with a timeout," he said. "Last week against Liberty I did it, but that wasn't a game-winning shot."