Hornets end frustrating skid against Mustangs, earn spot in Lady Panther Classic title game

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The Brown County girls basketball players celebrate at the end of their 47-43 victory over Unity on Thursday night in the semifinals of the CSE Lady Panther Classic in Camp Point, Ill. | Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

CAMP POINT, Ill. — Similar script, different ending.

Much, much different.

The Brown County girls basketball team put the brakes on a five-game losing streak to Unity when the Hornets pulled off a surprising 47-43 come-from-behind victory Thursday night in the semifinals of the 30th Lady Panther Classic at Central High School.

Brown County, ranked fifth in Class 1A, scored 10 of the closing 12 points, including the final six, to end its frustration at the hands of Unity, ranked second in Class 1A.

“We had lost five in a row to Unity, including two this year,” Brown County coach Dave Phelps said. “All of the games have been close, just like this one.”

Klare Flynn, a 5-foot-10 senior guard for Brown County, wore a similar look of relief.

“We knew playing Unity again would be tough,” said Flynn, who poured through a game-best 19 points for Brown County, including seven in the decisive fourth quarter when the Hornets outscored Unity 19-10.

Brown County (20-2) advances to Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game against host Central-Southeastern (17-2). CSE earned a 37-26 victory over Illini West in Thursday’s other semifinal.

Flynn said she felt Brown County’s second-half decision to attack the paint proved to be the eventual key to the team’s 20th victory of the season.

“We just tried to take the ball to the rim,” Flynn said. “We knew they were physical and we had a good chance of being fouled. We lived at the free-throw line in the second half.”

Brown County made 17 of 27 free throws for the game, including 11 of 17 in the second half. Unity (21-3) made 6 of 12 for the game.

“We took a lot of questionable shots (early in the game),” Phelps said. “We talked about playing smarter (in the second half), and playing with more cohesiveness.”

Phelps said Brown County’s emphasis to pound the ball inside was pretty obvious.

“I don’t think we attempted even one 3-pointer in the second half,” he said.

Katey Flynn, a four-year starter at point guard for Brown County, added 14 points. She scored 11 of her total in the second half. Gracie Hedden, a senior forward, finished with nine points.

“We have four senior starters, girls with a lot of experience,” Phelps said. “They know not to panic.”

Ashlee Markert, Brown County’s 6-foot-1 sophomore center and the only underclassman in the starting lineup, matched Klaire Flynn for game rebounding honors with eight. The Hornets held a 28-16 margin on the boards.

Ashlynn Arnsmann led Unity with 17 points and five rebounds. Kyra Carothers added 12 points for the Mustangs.

Unity plays at 6 p.m. Saturday in the third-place game against Illini West (14-9).

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