Ben Brahmer and Elly Piper each had a night to remember Tuesday night during basketball games between Pierce and Norfolk Catholic.
Brahmer’s school record-breaking scoring performance helped the Pierce boys cruise to a 72-50 win over the Knights, while Piper’s offensive rebound-putback with just over a second left led the Norfolk Catholic girls past the Bluejays 38-36.
Brahmer, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, scored 42 points and got the Pierce offense rolling early with a game-opening basket from the black and then made all three of his 3-point tries — all from the point —before adding a drive down the lane to put the Bluejays up 20-9.
“Getting off to a good start was something we had talked about; I was concerned because we hadn’t played for a week, and I didn’t want to play from behind against Norfolk Catholic,” Pierce coach Mike Emory said. “Playing from behind, if they get going from 3, they’re awful tough to stay with.”
Although a Ben Hammond 3 to end the quarter cut the Pierce lead to 20-12, Brahmer scored the first three baskets of the second period — two from the right block on consecutive entry passes from Logan Moeller and Dawson Watts, and another drive. Moeller added a drive of his own, and Chaden Roth nailed a 3 from the corner to give the Bluejays their largest lead of the first half at 31-15 on the way to a 40-22 halftime advantage.
“I thought we got up and down the floor well, got some easy buckets in transition,” Emory said. “Ben hitting those 3s early is something people may not plan on with him, but he’s very capable of that, and our guards did a great job of feeding him the ball.”
Brahmer’s stat line for the first two quarters was an impressive 8 of 10, with 3 of 4 success behind the 3-point line contributing to his 19 points, but there was more to come.
The third period included two more baskets from the block on assists from David Dale and Watts, a steal that Brahmer turned into a full-court layup through traffic, a lob from Roth that found Brahmer attacking the basket on the right baseline and ended with a two-handed slam, and another steal by Brahmer that became a breakaway dunk.
Those five baskets in six attempts, along with 5 of 8 field goal success in the fourth quarter — as well as a perfect 3 of 3 from the free throw line — finished off Brahmer’s 42-point effort (18 of 24 from the field, 75%) while subs finished the Bluejays’ 72-50 win.
Moeller and Watts each contributed 10 points for Pierce, which improved to 11-2 on the season.
“That was tough. Defensively we were just out of sync; our help side wasn’t very good, but they shot the ball extremely well,” Norfolk Catholic coach Kevin Manzer said. “Brahmer had an extremely good game; we were just not prepared for him to be that good on the perimeter and in the post.”
The 42 points breaks the record previously held by Ryan Collison, a 41-point effort set in a game against Stanton during the 1992-93 season.
“It was great teamwork and passing, and I got open shots that I was able to knock down the whole game,” Brahmer said. “Defense really helped, too; we got a good push on the ball, and they couldn’t get back on us.”
The Knights never got comfortable offensively and finished the night making 18 of 50 shots from the field (36%), including 8 of 20 3-point tries.
“Our perimeter kids did a great job of being in their gaps early and then being able to close out and get to their shooters to make most of their shots difficult,” Emory said. “Defensively we were very solid, and we rebounded well — especially a lot of long rebounds off of 3s, and we were able to get out and run with those.”
Christian Mickelson led the Knights, now 9-4, in scoring with 22 points.
Earlier, the Norfolk Catholic girls saw a 10-7 lead disappear when the Bluejays rattled off a 10-0 run — keyed by five points from Abby Meier on a three-point play and basket inside, and five more from Morgan Moeller on a pull-up jumper and a 3 from the wing — to take a 20-14 halftime lead. The Knights never held the lead again until Piper’s game-winning shot with just over a second left in regulation.
When Moeller added another 3 to open the third, the Bluejays held their largest lead of the game at 23-14, but Norfolk Catholic — with the help of seven straight third-quarter points from Carly Marshall — cut the deficit to 30-27 by the end of the period.
“When we were down nine midway through the third quarter, our defense was really solid, and we didn’t give Pierce a lot of easy looks and kept them to one shot every time,” Norfolk Catholic coach Tim Kassmeier said.
Two free throws by freshman Avery Yosten had the Knights within one point until Gina Wragge’s 3, her only basket of the game, and a free throw from Faith Lubischer returned the lead to five points (34-29).
Yosten, whose 15 points led the 7-7 Knights in scoring, then scored on a putback and added a three-point play after being fouled on a baseline jumper to tie the game at 34 with four minutes remaining.
“I thought Avery really made some big plays scoring the ball for us,” Kassmeier said. “Carly Marshall had some big baskets during that third quarter and really handled the ball for us against a good Pierce defense.”
During the next two minutes, Piper answered two free throws by Kenzie Moeller with a basket from the block to tie the game again, setting up the game-winner.
Pierce (9-5) had the first chance to take a lead with the score tied at 36 but turned the ball over, giving Norfolk Catholic its opening.
“It just came down to the end; we had an opportunity at the end, but we turned it over. We were looking for the last shot. It either goes in or we go overtime. But the turnover gave them the opportunity, and they scored,” Bluejays coach Darren Sindelar said. “You can’t do that; you can’t give teams that opportunity at the end of a game. We contested the shot well, but as all night we just didn’t rotate well enough against their big girls to block out and secure the rebound, and that hurt us.”
With time running out, Anna Neuhalfen missed her shot from the right corner. Piper grabbed the long rebound caroming off the rim, then sent the winning shot off the glass with :01.3 left. The Bluejays’ desperation heave from beyond half court fell short at the buzzer, clinching the Knights’ 38-36 win.
“I was glad Anna shot it, because I trusted in her shot,” Piper said. “I knew if she didn’t make it, I’d be on the backside. Nothing really went through my head; I was just thinking ‘short time, gotta get it up.’ ”
Norfolk Catholic coach Tim Kassmeier said his team would benefit from the win.
“A quality win, being down in and having to come back, and gain some confidence that we can do some things late in a close game,” Kassmeier said. “We hoped to get that last shot with about five seconds left; we talked and practiced that it’s typically the rebound-putback that gets somebody, and Elly, fortunately, was in the right spot.”
Pierce 20 20 15 17 — 72
Norfolk Catholic 12 10 10 18 — 50
Pierce (11-2): Logan Moeller 4-10 2-2 10, David Dale 0-3 0-0 0, Tyler Race 1-1 0-0 2, Ben Brahmer 18-24 3-3 42, Dawson Watts 2-3 6-6 10, Chaden Roth 2-4 0-0 6, Zach Collison 0-1 0-0 0, Abram Scholting 0-0 0-3 0, Mason Sindelar 1-1 0-0 2, Luke Collison 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 28-48 11-14 72.
Norfolk Catholic (9-4): Brennen Kelley 0-1 0-0 0, Preston Burbach 3-8 0-0 7, Ben Hammond 1-7 0-0 3, Christian Mickelson 9-17 0-2 22, Preston Eisenmenger 0-1 0-0 0, Travis Kalous 1-3 0-0 2, Jackson Clausen 0-4 2-5 2, Kade Pieper 3-4 0-0 6, Mason Timmerman 2-3 0-0 6, Nolan Fennessy 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 18-50 2-7 50.
Pierce 4 16 10 6 — 36
Norfolk Catholic 5 9 13 11 — 38
Pierce (9-5): Faith Lubischer 3, Gina Wragge 3, Payten Simmons 1, Kenzie Moeller 9, Alexus Sindelar 3, Morgan Moeller 10, Abby Meier 7. Total: 36.
Norfolk Catholic (7-7): Carly Marshall 7, Avery Yosten 15, Mary Fennessy 7, Kalea Fischer 2, Elly Piper 5, Jozy Piper 2. Total: 38.