Briarwood coach reaches milestone

His players applaud as Briarwood coach Jim Brown is honored for his 400th win in the locker room following the team's win over Chelsea on Jan. 7. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

CHELSEA — Briarwood Christian School girls’ basketball coach Jim Brown learned plenty of lessons in his first 399 career victories.

Brown followed a basic principle in coaching to record his 400th career victory in the Lions’ 53-42 victory over rival Chelsea in a Class 5A, Area 7 contest Jan. 7.

Brown saw Anna Handlin had a hot hand early on as she scored seven points in the opening quarter. He made sure the offense ran through the senior forward in the fourth quarter to help Briarwood turn a tied game into an 11-point win in the final period.

“Anna is a terrific player,” Brown said. “When crunch time comes and we need a basket, we’ve got to get the ball in her hands. She’s a big-time senior.”

Handlin led Briarwood with 18 points in the milestone victory for her head coach. Cara Medders, Abbie Cutcliffe and Hannah Wainwright added nine points each for the Lions, who improved to 16-3 overall and 3-0 in Class 5A, Area 7. Meredith Botes chipped in eight points.

Following the win, Brown preferred to talk about how well the Lions are playing rather than the personal significance of the victory.

“It means two things — I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of good players and I’ve been around a long time,” Brown said. “I really like this team. I like what we’re doing.”

Briarwood Christian School guard Cara Medders is fouled by a host of Chelsea defenders in the Lions' 53-42 win over rival Chelsea in a Class 5A, Area 7 contest Jan. 7. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Amanda Mock led Chelsea (6-11 overall, 0-3 in Class 5A, Area 7) with 13 points.

Perri Lambert added 11 points. Allis Luster and Sydney Hobson chipped in six points each.

Handlin nailed a 3-pointer and contributed two easy baskets in the opening quarter to help Briarwood jump out to an early 19-8 lead.

The Hornets outscored the Lions 14-3 in the second quarter and pulled even with Briarwood at 22-22 following an offensive rebound and basket by Luster with five seconds remaining in the first half.

The game featured four lead changes and four ties in the third quarter. Hobson tied the game at 32-32 heading into the fourth period with a layup late in the quarter.

Handlin capped a 7-0 run by Briarwood to start the fourth quarter following a sharp pass from Medders for layup. Handlin scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, which turned out to be the difference in the game, to help the Lions secure the victory.

Medders left the game after falling awkwardly on her left arm late in the fourth quarter. Brown said he was nervous watching the final two minutes without one of his best free-throw shooters.

“She got it caught in an odd position,” Brown said. “It was not a pleasant situation to be in.”

Chelsea coach Wayne Trucks said he was proud of his team for battling back from the first-quarter deficit.

“I’m really proud of our girls for not giving up,” Trucks said. “We had looks and we had shots, but we just couldn’t get them to fall.”

Trucks said he was honored to share the floor with Brown in his 400th career victory.

“I’m disappointed we lost, but I’m proud to be part of No. 400,” Trucks said. “Jim is a father first, a gentleman second and a coach third.”