Eagle boys fall short in district final
Successful season ends with 19-4 record
Brady boys basketball coach David Jacobs had practice plans drawn up through Wednesday (today).
He had every intention of still being on the court this week with the state tournament beginning on Thursday.
“I think we’re all still struggling with it,” Jacobs said, referring to Brady’s 62-52 loss to Hayes Center last week in the D2-5 district final. “When you have such a good season, you’re never really ready for it to end.”
The Eagles refused to go quietly into spring, putting up quite a fight during the district final at Hershey on Feb. 27.
“I thought we played extremely well in the first half,” Jacobs said. “It was exciting basketball and we felt pretty good about things.”
The Eagles started a little slow but after the first couple of minutes, it was see-saw scoring.
At the four-minute mark of the first quarter, the teams were tied 10-10.
The lead flipped back and forth several times until Cardinal Seth Gohl hit a lay-up and free throw to give Hayes Center a 20-17 lead closing out the first quarter.
It took Brady nearly four minutes of the second period to get a basket as the Eagles fell behind 24-17 before Sawyer Burke hit a bucket to start a comeback.
Burke put in 10 of Brady’s 12 points in the second quarter as the Eagles headed into halftime trailing 21-19.
“We played man defense in the first quarter and Hayes Center scored 20 points on us,” Jacobs said. “When we switched to a 1-3-1 zone in the second quarter, we slowed their scoring down.”
But the turning point came in the third period when Hayes Center got the first of three dunks to spark the Cardinals and Brady managed only nine points split between Burke and Tyler Egenberger.
“That dunk just got them rolling,” Jacobs said of the Cardinals. “I called a timeout thinking we could regroup. I never really thought the kids were discouraged. Several times throughout the year I’d call a timeout when we got down and the guys would come out and get right back in the game.”
The Eagles got down by as many as 14, ending the third quarter behind 49-38.
Brady mounted a comeback effort, hitting five three-point shots in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to close within four points.
Egenberger hit back-to-back three pointers at the three-minute mark, the second drawing Brady to within two points down 54-52.
Then he fouled out.
“That was a big blow for us,” Jacobs said. “Tyler and Sawyer played the game of their lives and to take one of them out just throws us off.”
Burke finished with 27 points, including seven three-pointers. Egenberger chipped in 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.
“Those two guys went out with a bang,” Jacobs said. “We just needed a little bit more to go with them to take Hayes Center out of their game.”
Michael Bishop led the Cardinals with 18 points.
Hayes Center (16-7) advanced to the Class D-2 state tournament to face Giltner (26-0) in the first round.
Brady ends the year 19-4, a better win-loss record than the last three times the Eagles made it to state.
“When I look back at the year, I see a lot of positives,” Jacobs said. “We beat every team we were supposed to beat and then some. We won three tournaments including a conference championship and despite our season being over we’re still in the World-Herald ratings at No. 8. It was a Top 10 season and we all have to be happy with that but it’s still hard because we wanted to be playing this week.”
The Eagles will graduate seven seniors, including Burke and Egenberger who have been leading scorers for Brady the past two seasons.
“They’re definitely going to be hard to replace,” Jacobs said. “They were good leaders for this team. All the seniors were. They’re a very special group of kids and I feel blessed to have been able to be so emotionally attached to them in my first year here.”
When sting of the season end fades, Jacobs will begin a strategy for next year.
“We’ve got some experienced kids coming back,” he said. “They had good role models this year. I just hope they were paying attention.”