Keenburg's girls, boys get best of Buladean Braves

Photo by Kristen Luther
Keenburg's Nannette Manz goes up for a shot, sidestepping Angie Putman.

By Marvin Birchfield

   Keenburg sent the Buladean Braves back across the border with a trail of tears on Tuesday, coming away with victories in both boys and girls junior high basketball action.
   In the girls' contest, it was the defensive pressure and running of the break that gave Keenburg a 39-28 win.
   "We played really hard out on the floor, and we had a lot of steals and easy baskets tonight," said Keenburg girls coach Amy Harkleroad. "We're an up-tempo team and seem to do better when we're running with it."
   The first half was a close affair as the Tigers managed a slim one-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, 9-8.
   A three-point basket by Jessica Estep fired up the Lady Tiger club, while Angie Putman carried the Lady Braves by scoring all eight of their points in the first quarter.
   Buladean took the lead in the second with a couple of free throws from Shana Rhinecker and field goal by Putman, but the Tigers rallied late in the period to grab a 14-13 lead at halftime.
   "The first half they seemed a bit nervous, but in the second half they came out ready to play and did a good job," said Harkleroad. "I think we did better by making the extra pass, and we had a lot of people step up and make some big-time plays."
   A steal off the inbounds pass from Jessica Trivette tied the contest, then a free throw with 32 seconds remaining put Keenburg out in front after two quarters of play.
   Trivette led the Tigers in scoring by pouring in nine points, while Natasha Bunten added eight.
   Keenburg came out strong in the third period with the full-court defensive pressure, which produced several steals and baskets on the transition.
   A lay-up off the fast break by Nannette Manz started the 15-3 run by the Tigers with Trivette and Bunten both making scores off of the steal.
   The Tigers carried a 29-16 advantage heading into the last period of play, as a nice pass from Brooke Bunten to Brittney Bailey inside gave Keenburg a 35-19 lead with three minutes left.
   Buladean was not able to cut into the large deficit during the final minutes, as Putman became their one-man show by dumping in 20 of their 28 points scored.
   "My girls played their hearts out and showed very good sportsmanship, and it'll be a totally different game when they come to Buladean," said Lady Braves coach Brandy Stockton.
   Tigers 45
   Braves 41
   The Tiger boys saw a 19-point advantage in the first half nearly slip away as they barely squeaked out the win in a 45-41 final.
   "Even the boys themselves admitted that they got cocky, and I told them you're giving a small team hope and hope is a dangerous thing," said Keenburg coach Scott Heaton.
   Buladean took an early 3-2 lead after Jacob Honeycutt connected on a free throw, and a shot inside the paint on a pass from Chris Rezzinico.
   Keenburg came right back to go on an 11-point explosion with Cody Marley leading the way, as he drained a three-point goal and poured in eight points during the first period.
   A steal and lay-up from Johnny Glass with five seconds left gave the Tigers a 15-6 lead at the end of the first.
   Keenburg came out in the second period to open with the first 10 points scored.
   A couple of field goals by Jordan Lambert and putback off a miss from Glass stretched the Tiger advantage to 25-6.
   It was a complete turnaround, though, in the final three minutes of the quarter, as the Braves made a stellar run to cut the deficit to five by halftime.
   A rebound, a drawn foul and two points from Elmer Zegler sparked Buladean with just nine seconds left in the half.
   What had appeared to be a blowout had changed direction, with a good heavyweight bout squaring off to start the second half.
   "I told them if we don't have a big lead by the end of the third quarter, then we're in a dogfight for the remainder of the game," said Heaton.
   The Tigers managed to keep a slim lead throughout the third quarter, but a bucket from Jacob Honeycutt at the end of the period made it a 34-33 game, with the Braves trailing by one.
   "It was quiet in the locker room. They know I'm not pleased with how they played and they're not pleased with how they played, either," said Heaton. "I don't know if we could beat anybody in our division with the way we played tonight."
   Keenburg started the final period with a running jumper and foul for the three-point play by Josh Moore.
   The Braves responded quickly with an eight-foot jumper from Justin Pfouts.
   Buladean finally tied the game with 3:10 left in regulation when Jacob Honeycutt made a running lay-up to tie the contest at 39-39.
   The Tigers reassumed the lead with a transitional bucket from Marley and putback by Glass.
   Glass finished the night with 14 points to lead Keenburg in scoring, as Moore and Marley both added ten apiece.
   A steal from Moore and pass to Glass inside gave the Tigers a four-point lead with 20 second left, as Buladean could not capitalize on free throws down the stretch, going 0-for-3 from the line.
   "We wore out by only having six players and it's hard to play a game with just that few," said Buladean coach Mandy Honeycutt. "We came back because we play with all heart."