By BRIAN DULIK
MEDINA – One of the most popular expressions in sports has become “It is what it is.”
On Thursday night, the phrase applied perfectly as top-seeded Westlake lived up to its billing with a 52-38 win over Brunswick in a Medina Division I Sectional final.
The Demons (20-2) never trailed and led by as many as 21 points en route to eliminating the youth-laden Blue Devils (3-18).
“There is a reason why Westlake is the No. 1 seed,” Brunswick coach Paul Gerycz said, offering his take on the “it is what it is” craze. “They’re long and athletic and quick, and they’ve got big, strong kids who go out and get the ball.
“We actually did OK in the second half, but they just had too much for us.”
While Blue Devils small forward Mikaela Lengal led all players with 18 points and 12 rebounds, the rest of the squad combined for just 20 and 11, respectively.
The Demons, meanwhile, got big nights from all four of their post players.
Division I college prospect Kalpana Beach (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists), Lauryn Smith (16 points, 9 rebounds), Ann Ryan (7 points, 5 rebounds) and Katie Carroll (3 points, 4 rebounds) owned the paint and made a living off second-chance opportunities.
“We couldn’t finish at times, but we were always in the right position at the right time underneath (the hoop),” Westlake coach Chip Weiss said. “When we play our type of basketball, good things happen.”
The Demons’ style also features a suffocating, trapping defense that forced 25 Brunswick turnovers, which led to them taking 17 more field goal attempts.
Westlake only outshot the Blue Devils 40 percent to 39, but the extra chances it had were the difference.
Brunswick point guard Annie Sofranko chipped in eight points – highlighted by a 3-pointer from half-court at the second-quarter buzzer – and senior center Mary Bricker had four points and a team-high three assists.
“Considering everything, we played pretty well,” said Lengal, who was 6-of-6 from the foul line. “We stuck with them for a while, but with the way they played defense, there wasn’t really a steady pace we could get comfortable in.”
Rachel Hallman (3 points, 4 rebounds), Sammie Lehnecker (3 points) and Erica Eubank (2 points, 2 assists) also got into the scorebook for the Blue Devils, who will return all 12 players that saw action except for Bricker.
“We’re sad the season is over, but we’re looking forward to the future because there are some exciting things ahead for Brunswick basketball,” said Gerycz, who has won one district championship and taken two teams to the district final.
“This was a good learning year for a lot of our players.”
It also was a great developmental year for junior Lengal, who developed into one of the elite players in the area, and sophomore Sofranko – both of whom built greatly on their one year of previous varsity experience.
“The best time to improve is in the offseason and I’m pretty sure the younger girls know that by now,” Lengal said. “Annie and I are going to go up to the Rec Center a lot, and I know the rest of the team will, as well. We’ll come back ready to go next year.”
Dulik may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-721-4059.