July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Extra works pays off for Blue Devils

Tim Gebhardt
The Gazette
ELYRIA — There’s something about the Elyria boys basketball team that just seems to bring out the best in Brunswick.
Friday, the Blue Devils escaped with a 59-53 overtime verdict to open Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division play.
It marked the seventh straight time Brunswick has beaten Elyria. Not since the final game of the 2007-08 regular season have the Pioneers come out on top.
The Blue Devils are 5-0 on the year for the first time in four years. Elyria fell to 2-1.
“I don’t know how many folks figured we’d still be undefeated at this stage of the season,” Brunswick coach Joe Mackey said. “We’re getting better, but we have a long way to go. To get a road win, we’ll take it.”
Brunswick’s 2-3 zone provided the difference in two very good defensive efforts. The Blue Devils were pretty much willing to let Elyria try to beat them from outside as long as it wasn’t 6-foot junior Kody Bender.
“We got stagnant on offense,” Elyria coach Brett Larrick said. “No one wants to move. We all want to stand. We’re not a good team right now. We’re a little on the selfish side.”
The Pioneers hit just 3-of-15 from 3-point range and just 31 percent overall in coming up short. Bender, who came in averaging 17.5 points, had just six points on one field goal.
“We knew coming in we had to get out on Kody,” Mackey said. “They are more athletic than we are. We thought the zone would kind of keep them in front a little bit. … Obviously, that was one of the keys to the game.”
Elyria’s full-court pressure caused some problems for Brunswick, but overall Mackey was happy with the way his backcourt handled it. The Blue Devils turned it over seven times in the fourth quarter, when Elyria rallied from a 49-43 deficit with 1:12 to play to send the game to the extra session.
“Our kids fought at the end,” Larrick said. “Give them credit for that. Too little, too late.”
The Pioneers got quick buckets by Rodney Beckett and Demetrius Walton off back-court pressure, and sophomore Ronnie Smith hit a pair of free throws with 6.2 seconds left to send the game to overtime. It appeared Elyria had the momentum going its way.
“We had an opportunity to close it out,” Mackey said. “Sometimes you have to give the other team credit, too. They made some nice plays defensively. We weren’t as strong with the ball as we needed to be and our spacing wasn’t great.
“Normally when a team makes a run and sends the game into overtime, they have all the momentum in the world. They have a lot more seniors than we do that play. For us to be able to calm ourselves and control the overtime was good for us. We don’t have a great deal of experience.”
Brunswick had just one turnover in overtime and Elyria made just 1-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from the line. Meanwhile, Brunswick took just one shot in overtime — a layup by Taylor Armagost — but was perfect on eight free throw attempts, with sophomore Ryan Badowski canning six.
“Free throw shooting should be one of your strong suits,” the sophomore point guard said. “No one’s guarding you.”
Kyle Wheeler led Brunswick with 16 points, while Badowski finished with 15.
“We thought we had it won in regulation,” Wheeler said. “I guess if you have to win it twice, you have to win it twice. We had confidence in ourselves that we could pull it out.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at sports@medina-gazette.com.
Brunswick 59, Elyria 53 (OT)
BRUNSWICK 9 13 19 8 10 — 59
ELYRIA 12 10 13 14 4 — 53
Brunswick — Ryan Badowski 3-8-15, Zach Parker 2-0-5, Alex Hartill 1-2-5, Kyle Wheeler 6-2-16, Scott Suren 3-0-6, Patrick Jarvis 0-0-0, Taylor Armagost 2-1-5, Jason Swords 3-0-7. TOTALS: 20-13-59.
Elyria — Demetrius Walton 2-0-5, Khire Lateef 1-2-4, Kody Bender 1-4-6, Dustin Stolarski 1-0-2, Anthoni Horton 6-4-16, Ronnie Smith 1-2-4, Isaiah Walton 1-2-5, Rodney Beckett 3-2-9, Dontae Dukes 0-2-2, Tracy Sprinkle 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-18-53.
3-point goals — Wheeler 2, Badowski, Parker, Hartill, Swords, D. Walton, I. Walton, Beckett. Rebounds — Brunswick 32 (Wheeler 6). Elyria 32 (Horton, Stolarski 6). Records — Brunswick (5-0, 1-0), Elyria (2-1, 0-1). Junior varsity — Brunswick 47, Elyria 42.