The Brown County boys basketball team celebrated homecoming with a comfortable, 15-point win over Edgewood.

But the fact it had been a 20-point lead with less than 20 seconds left demonstrated just how hard the Mustangs made them work.

“They played really, really hard,” Eagles Head Coach Chuck Hutchins said of the Mustang players. “You know, a lot of teams, in a situation where the shots aren’t following, where they’re not scoring, a lot of teams would pack it in.”

Despite an early lead, and senior Collin Hoskins earning almost twice as many points as the next-highest scorer, by the second quarter, Edgewood was up 16-13.

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The Mustangs held a tight lead through most of the second quarter. Then, led by junior Jordan Samples and seniors Austin Kritzer and Happy Lacy-Connell, the Eagles pushed past and began to build a cushion in the final minutes of the first half.

After the half, the Eagles kept expanding their advantage, and Hoskins led a drive that put the spread in the double digits.

Looking at the scoreboard for most of the rest of the game, it could have looked like the Mustangs were little threat to the Eagles. But with 20 points knocked out in the fourth quarter to the Eagles’ 19, they did not let their third-quarter setbacks slow them down.

With so many tough teams on the schedule this season, that’s one reason the Eagles don’t play by what is on the scoreboard, Hutchins said.

Always improving

Watching the Eagles on the court, it’s not difficult to notice how even their best players have gotten better. Their reliance on each other and readiness to pass to a teammate with a better shot — or to be there to tip in a missed shot — stands out.“We’re coming together as a team,” Hutchins said. “We’re getting better every single game, and we’re figuring out roles, figuring out what our jobs are and how to do those jobs.”Hutchins pointed out Hoskins’ talent.

“It’s really important that we surround him with balance and everybody does their job, and we’re starting to do that,” he said.

The Eagles know they can’t just rely on one player. Hoskins is frequently a target for the opposition; he led the homecoming game in free-throw attempts.

That’s where his teammates come in: taking the pressure off by making it too risky for the other team to pay too much attention to just Hoskins.

“We’ve got to have guys step up, and they consistently have been doing so more and more,” Hutchins said.

With sectionals only about two months away, Hutchins is pragmatic. He shows professional respect for the capabilities of the other teams in their bracket.

“We know that we have the ability to compete and win in our sectional, but the truth and the reality is that, every team that we play has the ability to beat us, too, and that’s not going to change,” he said. “So the only way we can look at this is, every single day get better, and become the best version of us, whatever that is.”

Still improving

For the first half of homecoming, the shoe was on the other foot, as Brown County’s girls basketball team fell to Edgewood’s team.The Eagles took a 51-39 loss.Even junior Maddy Edds, who frequently scores in the double digits, was held to 9 points.

Though they were tied 8-8 after the first quarter, the Eagles often had trouble keeping hold of the ball, and they were trailing by eight points at the half.

Still, they kept pressing, only letting the Mustangs put four more points between them in the second half.

And there was some impressive play on the court, head coach Matt Roberts said, especially for some of the inexperienced players it was coming from. Though her contributions didn’t show up in the box score, freshman Dasia Wilkerson, hit the court in the second half with speed and dexterity to make fans sit up and take notice.

Though the team has had a rough season, with a 3-15 record so far, Roberts keeps a similar attitude to Hutchins: The players need to focus on what they can do to improve, and play every minute without regard for what the scoreboard says.

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Ben Kibbey is a Brown County transplant from the cornfields of central Ohio. He covers county government, business, outdoors, sports and general news.