The Brownstown boys basketball program waited 15 long years to get a chance to compete for a championship in the St. Elmo Holiday Tournament.
The Bombers then had the misfortune of running into a team folks may be talking about for 15 years to come.
Top-seeded Altamont (7-0) capped the most dominating run in the tournament’s 49-year history Saturday by rolling to a 70-35 victory over the third-seeded Bombers (5-6), who advanced to their first title game since 1993 after upsetting South Central for the second time in as many years on Friday.
Brownstown’s run was even more impressive, considering they played the entire tournament without starting shooting guard Cody Robbins, who is out with an illness.
"I just got done telling the guys there’s absolutely no reason to hang their heads tonight," Bombers coach Adam Bussard said. "We finished second, and that’s better than we finished last year. That was our goal.
"You’ve just got to tip your cap to coach (Doug) Hill and Altamont. They’re a very nice ballclub."
The Indians have generated a considerable amount of buzz for their towering front line, which goes 6-foot-9, 6-6, 6-6. Brownstown’s tallest starter stands just 6-3.
But despite that height advantage inside, it was Altamont’s perimeter attack that buried the Bombers early.
The Bombers enjoyed an early 4-2 lead after Jared Winters found Michael Kramer cutting to the basket for a layup, but Brian Suckow countered with a 3-pointer that ignited a 19-2 Altamont run over the next five minutes of play.
A Winters 3-pointer halted the Indians’ run late in the quarter, but Kieffer McCarron countered with the Indians’ fifth trifecta of the first quarter, as Altamont led 24-9 after eight minutes of play.
McCarron started off the second quarter with yet another 3-pointer to give Altamont a daunting 27-11 advantage, but Kramer single-handly kept Brownstown’s hopes alive by scoring eight straight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Indians’ lead to 27-17 with 4:26 remaining in the half.
After McCarron and Winters exchanged jumpers, the Bombers had two chances to cut Altamont’s lead to single digits, only to cough the ball up both times.
Landon Duckwitz converted the latter into a pair of free throws after coming up with a steal, starting an 8-0 Indians run to close the half, leaving Brownstown down 37-19 – and visibly dejected – at halftime.
Altamont showed no mercy in the third quarter, outscoring the Bombers 21-7.
"That third quarter, we just exploded in a way that I’ve not seen us (explode) all year long," Hill said. "Now that they’ve showed that to us, I want to see that more."
McCarron led four Indians in double figures with 24 points. Devin Frailey did much of Altamont’s damage in the third quarter, adding 15 points. Duckwitz and Suckow added 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Altamont wound up shooting 52 percent from the floor.
"They’ve got a lot of weapons," Bussard said. "They’ve got five bullets out there at one time they can fire. A lot of schools, no matter what size, don’t have that."
Despite the lopsided outcome, Hill is in no rush to see the Bombers – who played just two seniors in the game – any time soon.
"Credit Brownstown for getting to the championship game, and then fighting us through that first half," Hill said. "They’ve got a lot of young guys – and a lot of good young guys. They’re gonna be a handful starting next year."
Kramer led the Bombers with 12 points, capping a first-team all-tournament performance. Winters added seven points and was a second-team all-tourney selection.
McCarron, Duckwitz and Frailey represented Altamont on the all-tournament team.
South Central 44
The Bombers advanced to their first championship game appearance since 1993 by topping South Central for the second straight year in the St. Elmo Tournament.
Brownstown enjoyed a narrow 22-20 lead at halftime, but extended to a 36-26 lead with a 14-6 third-quarter advantage. The Bombers then managed to hold off a furious Cougars comeback attempt in the final period.
Kramer led the Bombers with 15 points, while Winters had 14. Sophomore Zach Rigdon chipped in eight points.
Isaac Grapperhaus had a game-high 16 points for South Central, while Tanner Bushue added 13. Tyler Gillett chipped in a career-high 11 points.
Brownstown 45, St. Elmo 32
The Bombers snapped a four-game losing streak by pulling away from the host team with a 15-8 fourth-quarter advantage.
Both teams struggled offensively through the first three quarters, as Brownstown took a 30-24 lead into the final frame.
Winters helped Brownstown pick up the scoring pace after a slow start, finishing with a game-high 13 points.
Freshman Ben Sperry led the Eagles with 10 points. Nathaniel Maxey made his season debut for the Eagles, finishing with five points. The sophomore point guard missed the first three weeks of the season with an injury. Starting shooting guard Cody Robbins remained out with an illness for Brownstown.