August 27, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
78°F

Blue Devils’ late rally falls short

MEDINA — The fairy tale almost wrote itself Saturday afternoon: Brunswick’s only healthy senior hits a last-second 3-pointer, and the Blue Devils go on to win in overtime.

The reality was Brunswick ran out of ink.

Bulic

Bulic

Facing another daunting task in top-seeded Westlake, the Cinderella Blue Devils couldn’t pull off another stunner and lost 50-47 in the Medina Division I District championship.

Ohio State recruit Kalpana Beach had 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Demons (21-4), who advance to play Midpark at the Norwalk Regional.

“We just fought back,” said Brunswick coach Halle Lengal, whose team finished 14-10. “It’s great to see and it’s a good, positive spin on things even though we lost. We had so much heart to play and try to win that game.”

The Blue Devils trailed by 12 in the third quarter, yet rallied to within one twice in the fourth.

Their hopes of victory were finally dashed when senior point guard Annie Sofranko (10 points, 3 steals) missed an NBA 3-pointer from the left wing with three seconds remaining.

Six-foot-4 Gabrielle Bulic had 15 points, 16 of the team’s 24 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Erica Eubank added 10 points — eight in the fourth quarter — and five assists, while Mariah Eckrich came off the bench to score eight points.

“Honestly, it’s the type of kids they are,” Lengal said. “They love basketball.”

Brunswick began its comeback with a 3-pointer by Sofranko in the third quarter. Slowly but surely, the Blue Devils got to within striking distance until a Eubank trifecta made it a new ball game (45-43) with 1:29 left.

Sofranko canned a pair of free throws to bring Brunswick within 46-45 and Bulic hit a turnaround with 35 seconds left to make it 48-47.

The Blue Devils couldn’t get closer because of a lack of defensive execution. They were supposed to foul anyone but Beach, but somehow the ball found her every time.

Beach scored 10 of Westlake’s last 13 points, including going 6-of-8 at the free throw line.

Regardless, Brunswick still had a chance to force OT. The Blue Devils ran down the final 21 seconds and Cassi Bowen got the ball in the corner. She swung it back to Sofranko, who let a good look fly from 23 feet.

It missed left, and Bowen barely had a foot on the baseline as she grabbed the rebound.

“Annie’s always a good option from 3-point range, so I’m not upset with the shot we got,” Lengal said. “I’ll take that any night. If I have a chance for Annie to get off a shot, that’s always good.”

Though Brunswick fell behind 25-17 at halftime, many knew it was only a matter of time before the Blue Devils would make a comeback.

With center Katie Carroll (4 points, 10 rebounds) and point guard Rachel Trujillo (5 points, 3 assists) both in heavy foul trouble — both players fouled out early in the fourth quarter — Westlake essentially turned into a one-girl team with the 6-1 Beach scoring at will against tough defense from 5-8 Brunswick players Bowen, Eubank and Eckrich.

“She’s just unstoppable and they did everything they could to guard her,” Lengal said.

The only reasons the Demons led were second-chance opportunities — Westlake finished with 17 offensive rebounds — and the fact Brunswick was missing open jumpers.

Sure enough, the tides turned second half and the Blue Devils, who had assists on all 17 field goals and were 9-of-9 at the free throw line, nearly pulled off another upset.

This time, however, it wasn’t meant to be.

“They are a very close-knit group and they didn’t want it to be over, so they were going to do whatever it took to make sure it wasn’t over,” Lengal said. “Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.