The score was tied at 41 midway through the fourth quarter. The game could have gone either way, as Waubonsie Valley boys basketball coach Steve Weemer said.
As often happens it went Jared Brownridge's way. The Warriors senior guard converted a three-point play, Batavia turned the ball over and Brownridge split two defenders in the paint to start an 11-2 run that closed Waubonsie's 52-43 Upstate Eight Conference crossover win against the host Bulldogs.
"Towards the end I knew I had to take the ball to the basket more," said the Santa Clara-bound Brownridge, who scored 11 of his 18 points in the second half. "I knew I had to take it aggressive and they would foul me. All I did in the end of the game was pump fake, go into them, make sure I got to the free-throw line."
"Jared needs to do that," Weemer said. "Jared's a Division I player for a reason."
But Brownridge was not alone. Nick Karkazis was at the line down the stretch, as was 6-foot-7 all-UEC forward Bryan Jefferson, who scored 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Jefferson's 6 first-quarter points on a putback, an inbounds play and a drive to the hoop were part of 8-of-14 first-quarter shooting that had Waubonsie (5-2) leading 18-7 after one quarter. Forwards Jack Cordes and, off the bench, Javares Stewart contributed to the fast start.
"We tried to play an aggressive (1-3-1) zone on them and then rebound well," Jefferson said. "And out of that we tried to get Jared some shots and go hard to the basket. That's pretty much the game plan for this week."
Batavia found its footing in the middle quarters, pulling within 25-19 at the half and claiming its first tie, 32-32, on a Micah Coffey 3 after forward Luke Horton hit the deck to snag an offensive rebound. Batavia (2-4) led 38-37 after three quarters on baskets by Mike Carlson and Horton.
"I think we can be a team that can be good inside and good outside," said Bulldogs coach Jim Nazos. "I thought we attacked the rim pretty good. I thought that opened up some shots there, too, for those guys. But in the fourth quarter we had trouble stopping them and, too, getting looks."
Batavia began the fourth quarter with 3 straight turnovers, allowing Waubonsie to go up 41-38. Batavia guard Mike Rueffer converted a three-point play for the 41-41 tie with 4:04 left to play. Waubonsie pulled out to a 48-41 lead with 1:48 remaining.
"Towards the end of the game I think we've got to get tougher as it goes on," said Rueffer, whose 14 points were followed by Horton with 8 and Jake Pollack with 7. "We tend to back off a little bit instead of pushing it back down their throat like they did to us tonight."