EATON TWP. — With an under-the-weather Pat Forsythe sucking down a gallon of Gatorade like it was his job, someone else on Brunswick’s boys basketball team had to step up.
Matt Dunning was more than happy to oblige.
The senior power forward scored a career-high 22 points Tuesday, leading the incredibly efficient third-seeded Blue Devils to a 59-40 win over No. 14 Cloverleaf in a Grafton Division I Sectional semifinal.
Brunswick (14-7) advances to face North Ridgeville, which beat Westlake 47-44 in the opener on a banked 3-pointer at the buzzer, Friday night at 6.
Forsythe was questionable to even play after coming down with a nasty bug that had already hit a handful of teammates. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, five blocks and broke Nick Lapsevich’s 14-year-old record for points in a season (461) on a three-point play in the third quarter.
But it was the red-hot shooting of Dunning that proved to be the difference.
“(Pat’s) been sick all week, and we knew if we wanted to win I’m a senior and I had to step up,” said Dunning, who made 9-of-11 shots. “He can’t lead us every single game, so I just went in with that mindset that if he wasn’t feeling well enough to play the way he normally plays, I was going to have to the carry the team.”
Dunning didn’t single-handedly carry the Blue Devils, but he provided key buckets as the Colts (4-17) did a great job of scrapping with a four-corner offense and zone defense that essentially double-teamed Forsythe at all times.
As most Brunswick opponents have found out, however, the Blue Devils can beat you in more than one way.
Cloverleaf had closed to within 30-20 early in the third quarter before Dunning scored in the paint. He added a big 3-pointer that pushed the spread to an insurmountable 17-point lead in the quarter, then added seven points in the fourth to ensure a comeback wasn’t going to happen.
“We can knock down shots,” said Dunning, who hit four 3-pointers. “Almost all of our guys can make threes, so if they’re going to sit inside on Pat, we’re going to shoot it and we’re going to make it.”
Brunswick, which shot 23-of-38 (.605) from the floor, a blazing-hot 10-of-15 (.666) from 3-point range and handed out 18 assists, also received nine points, five assists and four rebounds from freshman point guard Ryan Badowski and five points and a game-high seven dimes from sophomore small forward Kyle Dunning.
The Blue Devils’ match-up 2-3 zone and trap look forced Cloverleaf’s slow-paced offense to run even slower, which burned valuable time off the clock when Brunswick led in the second half.
“The first thing to learn about winning is playing hard, and I thought (Cloverleaf) played hard,” Blue Devils coach Joe Mackey said. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re just happy to be advancing.”
Colts coach Dan Brown was happy with the effort, as his young squad had a puncher’s chance for nearly three quarters.
Senior center Kori Davis finished his career strong with a career-high 12 points, junior point guard Zack Miglich added 10 points, three assists and just one turnover against Brunswick’s trapping defense, and backup post Pat Kmitt played well in the paint with five points.
“I thought of the 10 threes they made, we contested very well on seven of them,” Brown said. “I’m just proud of our kids. That’s a tough game plan to put in and a tough team to prepare for on two days break.”
North Ridgeville rallied to beat Westlake in the opener Tuesday. The Rangers trailed much of the fourth quarter, and took the lead with under a minute remaining. The Demons countered with a free throw to tie the game, and then North Ridgeville point guard Danny Montgomery (23 points) heaved a double-teamed 3-pointer from the top of the arc that banked in for the game-winner.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.