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Benton Central dominates Harrison to win J&C Classic crown

November 28, 2012
Benton Central High School

Benton Central starting guard Tessa Brouillette played three minutes in Saturday night’s J&C Hoops Classic championship.

She missed her only field goal and didn’t score, and after the Class 3A No. 4 Bison celebrated a 64-27 victory over Harrison in Resler Gymnasium, senior Caitlyn Tolen looked beyond a pair of tournament records she set and bestowed the credit to Brouillette’s hustle for winning the title.

BC led 7-5 early when Autumn Ringen stole the ball and had a lane to the basket for a potential tying layup. Brouillette raced down the floor, gained position and waited for Ringen to crash into her.

Brouillette exited the game with a concussion, but her bravery was not lost on her teammates.

“That’s when we started picking it up. It got me up, got everyone else pumped up,” Tolen said. “It takes a lot to take one of those and to take that, it changed the game.”

One night after Tolen missed tying the single-game J&C Hoops scoring record by one point, BC’s point guard smashed two other scoring records.

Tolen scored 27 points, giving her 82 for the 2012 tournament and breaking former McCutcheon standout Lakan Hasser-Smith’s record of 69. Tolen also finished with 207 career points in the J&C Hoops Classic, breaking the mark formerly owned by BC graduate Skyler Gick.

Tolen earned tournament MVP honors in leading BC to its second J&C Hoops Classic championship and first since the inaugural tournament in 2005.

Two years ago, the Bison advanced to the Class 3A state championship game before losing in overtime. Through all the big games BC seniors Tolen, Cassidy Deno and Courtney Lester had played in, they’d never won the J&C Hoops Classic.

Two years ago, BC advanced to the championship game, losing to McCutcheon 50-48.

“We’ve always gotten knocked out of it,” Deno said. “This was our first goal for the season. We got it and it feels great.”

For Harrison, Saturday’s loss stung. The Raiders jumped ahead 5-0 on Autumn Ringen’s 3-pointer and Claire Muller’s basket. BC (4-0) responded with an 11-0 run that included Brouillette taking the charge.

But it was a step in the right direction for a program that had never advanced to a championship of any kind in recent memory. Ringen finished with 10 points, leading the Raiders (2-2).

“I’ve never been more proud of a group of kids that I’ve coached in my entire life,” Harrison coach Jake Rettig said. “We were a little nervous coming in, but it’s real good for us. It is just like a sectional environment. You play on Monday or Tuesday, you come back Friday and turn around Saturday and have to make the adjustments. It’s good for us.”

Tolen was one of three BC players to score in double figures and also had nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Deno scored 13 with seven rebounds and freshman Kaylan Coffman provided 10 points off the bench. Freshman Katie Shields had six points and seven rebounds.

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