August 22, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
83°F

Seniors celebrate big night

By BRIAN DULIK

Staff Writer

BRUNSWICK — A roller coaster regular season for Brunswick’s boys basketball team ended on a high note Friday.

The Blue Devils made nine 3-pointers, put four players in double figures and dominated Elyria on the boards en route to a 68-35 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division victory.

With the senior night win, Brunswick (14-6, 7-3) snapped its two-game losing streak, which tied a season high, and finished second in the elite division behind Garfield Heights.

“This is the best way you could possibly go out — winning big in your last game on your home court,” said Blue Devils forward Alex Lukic, who had nine points and six rebounds.

“All (three) of us seniors have been playing together for six years — since middle school basketball — and it meant a lot to leave this gym as winners.”

Small forward Bill Slattery (12 points) and point guard Brian Griffey (5 assists) also played well in their home finale, which was very important to Blue Devils coach Joe Mackey.

“I’m real happy for Alex, Bill and Griff as seniors because, deep down, they’re good kids with good hearts,” he said. “This team has had some (off-the-court) distractions throughout the season, but those guys never bailed on me and I am proud to stand by them.”

Junior center Tyler Ferrell paced Brunswick with 17 points and eight rebounds, while power forward Kyle Payne had 10 points and nine rebounds. Their boardwork helped the Blue Devils win the rebounding battle 35-19.

Sophomore Matt Dunning added 11 points, including three 3-pointers, while junior Mike Fedj closed out the game’s scoring with a pair of treys for the Blue Devils.

“All year, people have doubted us because we graduated so many players from last season, but that just got us motivated even more,” Slattery said. “Now, we want to go far in the tournament to keep proving them wrong.”

Elyria (2-18, 0-10) got 13 points and five rebounds from sophomore center Chase Farris, eight points and three boards from Matt Velazquez and three points and four assists from Mike Cannon-Wohlever.

The Pioneers, who led 11-10 late in the first quarter, only committed 11 turnovers but were done in by a 29 percent shooting night from the field.

“We had a good first quarter, but they hit some shots in the second and we couldn’t adjust,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said. “(Farris) gives us everything he’s got, but we needed more guys like him because we didn’t match their competitiveness.”

The Pioneers will join Brunswick next week at the Grafton Midview Division I District, which became wide open when top-seeded Lorain Admiral King lost its starting point guard to a season-ending knee injury.

Elyria takes the court first against fellow NOC Valley member Strongsville, while the second-seeded Blue Devils will meet Avon Lake or Lorain Southview.

“This was not how we wanted to go into the tournament, but we’ve played well in some of our recent games,” Larrick said. “At the same time, we have to learn how to finish games and realize there are no more tomorrows at this point.”

Brunswick, meanwhile, is not only eyeing a deep tourney run, it needs one victory to reach 15 for a Medina County-record 10th straight season.

“We talk about it almost every day because that’s important to us,” Griffey said.

Lukic agreed, saying, “That record is thought of pretty highly at Brunswick. We’re not going to be the team that breaks the streak.”

The junior varsity Blue Devils (15-5, 8-2) closed their campaign with an impressive win, beating the Pioneers 57-45. Dunning had 17 points and Pat Forsythe scored 12 for Brunswick, which won its third league championship in four years under coach Tom Harrington, whose career record is 68-12.

Dulik may be reached at brisports@hotmail.com or 330-721-4059.