VANDALIA — Leading by three at halftime, National Trail’s boys’ basketball team was poised to make a run at winning its second tournament game and advancing to the sectional final for the first time in a long time.
However, a disastrous third quarter proved to be the Blazers undoing.
Trail made just 1-of-8 shot attempts and turned the ball over three times in the third quarter as Brookville took control of the Division III sectional game en route to a 53-49 win on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Vandalia-Butler High School.
“That’s all you need to know is the third quarter. There were some runs in the first half and each time answered it. We just struggled to execute to answer that run. So that run just got bigger and bigger,” Trail coach Mike Harrison said. “Give them credit for forcing us to take shots that we don’t really want to take.”
The Blazers led 14-9 after the first quarter and held a 27-24 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils opened the second half with a 7-0 run to take a 31-27 lead forcing Trail to call a time out. A pair of free throws from Adam Eyler pulled the Blazers to within two at 31-29. The two teams then traded baskets before Brookville ran off eight straight points to close out the quarter and take a 41-31 lead into the final quarter.
“I thought we let frustration get to us a little bit in the third quarter. At this point in the season I’m just proud of my kids for everything they’ve accomplished. What they’ve accomplished is most of the year we have been pretty good at getting more mentally tough and fighting through that,” Harrison said. “I just thought we struggled with that a little bit today and that stretch got us down by enough we couldn’t get all the way back.”
Brookville led by as many as 11 in the final quarter before Trail rallied to get within 52-49 with 22 seconds left.
“We kept playing hard and I expected that out of my guys. I’m proud of them. It’s been a good year. At the end of the season it’s more sadness than it is anger. It’s sadness because it’s been a fun year and they’re a good group of kids that I enjoyed being around,” Harrison said. “You just don’t want to see it come to an end.”
Trail was led freshman Cameron Harrison’s 14 points. Senior Dalton Mason scored 12. Junior Travis Hunt chipped in nine and sophomore Zach Woodall added seven.
Trail, which beat Brookville two weeks ago 64-60, ends the season 15-9.
“Brookville’s a good team. It was a battle the first time and we made the biggest run that counted. This time they certainly made that big run in the third quarter,” coach Harrison said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH