For the second time in as many weeks, the Brookfield girls' basketball team held a halftime lead at home before conceding a big run during a long, scoreless stretch in the second half.
The Bulldogs fell victim to Clarence Cannon foe Centralia on Tuesday night, 44-39, and they fall to 1-3 in conference play and 5-11 overall. The visiting Panthers advance to 10-9 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
Despite the Bulldogs having lost each of their past seven games, first-year coach Tony Fairchild said that he has seen his sophomore-centric team trend in the right direction of late.
"I thought the girls played pretty well, and they're starting to figure out what I want them to do on offense," Fairchild said. "There's definitely some things we need to work on, but they are a quality team who plays quality teams. I was pleased, (Centralia) was a good team last year with everyone back except a few girls. We've just got to figure out how to get a basket when we really need one."
Fairchild cannot overstate that final point.
Brookfield took a 37-35 lead on a pair of Kaylie Stufflebean free throws with 5:30 remaining in the ballgame before going cold for the next five minutes in the midst of a 9-0 Centralia run. With 20 seconds remaining, Cassi Conard hit a layup to bring her Bulldogs back within five, and Brookfield got a little luck with Centralia clanking the front end of a few one-and-one opportunities, but it proved to be too little.
The Bulldogs led 19-15 at the halftime break, but Centralia used three of its five three-pointers in the third quarter to take a 33-27 lead by the end of the third. Brookfield did not knock down a three-point shot on the evening.
The Bulldogs tied the game at 33 apiece the 7:00 mark in the fourth quarter, accounting for half of their points in that quarter in just the first 60 seconds.
Fairchild said that the discrepancy in shooting may have been the difference in the ballgame.
"Our gameplan was to make sure that if they beat us, they beat us from the perimeter, and they got kind of hot there," Fairchild said. "I thought we made some bad choices late in the game, and that's probably the worst we've shot all year from distance."
Conard led the Bulldogs with 16 points, and Stufflebean was also in double figures with 10. Rylee Sensenich was the only other Bulldog to finish with more than a bucket, posting eight.
The 'Dogs play again Friday when they host conference power Clark County. The Indians enter the game 18-1.
Next week, Brookfield goes on a grueling road stretch, playing away from home four times in five days.