The back of the Brookville High School boys basketball team’s’ shooting shirts states “culture.”
“Everything we’ve achieved so far is great, but we all know we’re pushing for a lot more,” Blue Devils senior Jacob Gudorf said. “We’ve bought in.”
Searching for the program’s first Southwestern Buckeye League title since the 1990 Kregg Creamer-led squad, Brookville took a substantial step closer to that target Friday with a 56-53 overtime win over host Bellbrook in a crucial Southwestern Division game.
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The Blue Devils, ranked No. 8 in the Division III AP State poll, lost a seven-point lead with 1:34 left in regulation and then outscored Bellbrook 4-0 over the final 67 seconds of OT to improve to 12-1 overall and 5-1 in the SWBL after the first rotation of play.
Bellbrook, which never led during regulation, dropped to 4-6, 3-2.
“It’s kind of become our nemesis because it’s been so long,” Brookville head coach Jeff Davidson said of an SWBL title. “These guys want it awfully bad and I want it bad for them.”
Bellbrook and Franklin have had a monopoly on the SWBL. The Eagles and Wildcats have combined to win at least a share of the last 14 Southwestern Division titles. Only Oakwood has snuck a share of two titles during that span.
Brookville is positioned to snap the string.
Led by Gudorf – a 6-foot-3 point guard – the Blue Devils own a stockade of firepower few teams can match. Bellbrook tried.
Ahead 22-17 at halftime, Brookville extended its advantage to 33-26 entering the fourth.
Four times in the fourth quarter Bellbrook cut the lead to two points and once got it to one (42-41 with 2:56 left). Partially aided by Gudorf spending a stint on the bench with four fouls, the Eagles hit 14-of-14 second half free throws to stay within reach.
Down 49-45 with 23 seconds to go, Bellbrook baskets from Caleb Scott and Hayden Greene with 23 and 4.7 seconds left, respectively, forced OT.
“Anytime they catch up to you and force OT you’re a little nervous,” Brookville senior Devvin Hartman said. “But our coaches preach to us that you have to play through adversity. With us hearing that so much it led up to this moment.”
Bellbrook took its first lead (51-49) on a TJ Nagy basket in OT. Freshman Ryan Chew’s two free throws gave the Eagles their second lead – 53-52 – with 1:24 left.
A Wade Turner field goal and two AJ Eller free throws – the last with 1.2 seconds to go – enabled Brookville to survive Bellbrook’s last chance heave with a second to go.
“Every facet of the game just occurred in those 36 minutes,” Davidson said. “Every element showed itself tonight.”
Eller led Brookville with 12 points, while Gudorf added 11. Turner and Daniel Dominique added 10 each.
Scott led all scorers with 19 points, while Greene chipped in 13. Chew dropped 10.
It was the fourth loss for Bellbrook by six points or less.
“In everyone of them you can look and we’re right around 20 turnovers,” Bellbrook head coach Donnie Tate said. “Most of them are unforced. As a coaching staff we feel like we’re battling ourselves.”