BRUNSWICK — Defense and consistency. It’s easier said than done.
Brunswick’s boys basketball team had no problem doing just that Tuesday at its Holiday Hoops Classic, dismantling previously undefeated Mayfield 61-43.
The Blue Devils (7-1) advance to tonight’s 7:30 championship against Louisville recruit Terry Rozier and run-and-gun Shaker Heights, which knocked off Solon 63-39 to remain perfect.
“What we preach a lot of around here is defense and consistency,” Brunswick coach Joe Mackey said. “That’s what we do. We don’t worry too much about offense over here, but I thought defensively we were really good.”
When it came to the Blue Devils’ always rock-solid ‘D,’ Alex Hartill (4 blocks, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) took care of the outside and centers Taylor Armagost (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Scott Suren took care of the inside as Brunswick forged a 32-19 halftime lead that was never seriously threatened.
Backup Jason Swords took care of the offense with a career-high 12 points, three steals and two assists. Guards Ryan Badowski (14 points, 4 assists, 4 steals) and Kyle Wheeler (14 points) then clamped the vise on victory by making 11 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter.
But oh, that defense. The matchup 2-3 was outstanding, as Mayfield shot a putrid 10-of-40 (.250) overall and an even-worse 3-of-20 (.150) from 3-point range through the first three quarters.
“The zone looked pretty good,” said Swords, whose team finished with 10 blocks between five players. “I think they had 19 (points) at halftime, and we have to keep it going for Shaker (tonight).”
If Armagost and Suren can control the paint against the Red Raiders like they did against Mayfield, Brunswick will be in good shape.
Coming into the game, Wildcats center Drew Teller was averaging 15.8 points. Against Armagost and Suren, the 6-foot-5 senior had just two points and eight rebounds, and was held without a field goal for the first time this season.
Overall, Armagost and Suren combined for 10 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
“We just played good overall,” Armagost said. “We crashed the boards and didn’t let their best player (Teller) do pretty much anything.
“Coach Mackey and Schmitty (junior varsity coach Brian Schmidt) just told us to wall up on him. That’s all we did because I had the height (6-6) and Scott had the bulk (6-4, 190 pounds).”
The only chink in the Blue Devils’ armor was a pinball-machine third quarter — “It was streetball,” Swords joked — when the teams combined for 21 turnovers and, at one point, went nearly 10 consecutive possessions without a shot attempt until Swords drilled a 3-pointer.
Brunswick saw 13 of its 22 turnovers come in the quarter, but rebounded brilliantly in the fourth by coughing up the ball just once against a full-court trap.
That was enough to satisfy Mackey, whose team continues to win in different ways as it heads into the meat of the schedule.
“Our defense has been real consistent over the year and it’s allowed us to have some success,” he said. “The 2-3 (zone) is what it is. If you would have told me 2-3 years ago we’d be playing a lot of 2-3, I’d tell you, you were crazy.
“We’re still trying to find out what we can and can not do, but we’re getting better. We’re not the most entertaining team to watch — I understand that — but the most important thing is we’re finding ways to win.”
Corey Welsh had 23 points and Jake Skonier added 20 as Brunswick’s junior varsity remained undefeated with a 60-46 victory.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.