June 27, 2016

Partly cloudy

Brunswick sophomore drills a game winner in overtime

BRUNSWICK — The postgame moshpit in the Brunswick locker room had plenty of extra bounce Wednesday night.

“We usually only do that after the Strongsville game,” in-pain coach Joe Mackey said after getting kneed in the thigh.

Brunswick’s Jason Swords, left, Taylor Armagost, right, and Kyle Wheeler celebrate after defeating previsously unbeaten Shaker Heights. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

The Blue Devils had a big reason to celebrate like rockstars.

Sophomore Ryan Badowski drilled a 17-footer in the final seconds of overtime and center Taylor Armagost blocked Jimmie Pope’s 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Brunswick an emotional, physical and impressive 56-54 victory over previously undefeated Shaker Heights in the Holiday Hoops Classic championship.

Make that two straight days with a victory over a team without a loss, and this one came against a Red Raiders squad with a top-flight guard — Terry Rozier (20 points, 7-of-22 shooting) — who has a scholarship to Louisville.

“This has to give our kids a lot of confidence, and I couldn’t be more proud of the kids,” Mackey said. “We found a way to execute down the stretch and it was a great, great win. I loved the execution down the stretch.”

Brunswick (8-1), which forced overtime on three Badowski free throws with nine seconds remaining, held a 54-53 lead after Kyle Wheeler canned a clutch 3-pointer, but Shaker Heights’ Robert Fomby was fouled with 45 seconds left. Fomby split the free throws to tie the game, and Mackey elected for the last shot.

Badowski (20 points) got the ball near the Brunswick bench and dribbled around the 3-point arc. Rozier then went under a screen, allowing Badowski to squirt into an open gap and nail the jumper with 2.5 seconds remaining.

After inbounding the ball, Rozier got it back and sprinted down the court. His 35-footer glass-balled — causing a premature Brunswick celebration — but the clock never started. The officials put 1.2 seconds on the scoreboard and allowed the Red Raiders to inbound from midcourt. Rozier wasn’t open, so the ball went to Pope, whose off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer was partially blocked by Armagost (8 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks).

The student section then stormed the court after the teams shook hands, and the party was still rocking in the locker room well after the final horn.

“Terry went underneath (the screen) and came back out, but I don’t know, I just had some space,” said Badowski, the tournament MVP. “With five seconds left, I decided to shoot the shot.”

The sequence capped a wild second half in which Shaker Heights went to a stall with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter in an attempt to get Brunswick out of its matchup 2-3 zone. The Red Raiders dribbled out the remaining time, and Rozier’s fadeaway 3-pointer bricked as time expired.

That gave Brunswick all the momentum it needed.

In the fourth quarter, backup post Patrick Jarvis drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in front of the Brunswick bench — “I’m Irish and I’m not lucky, so God owed me a couple there,” Mackey deadpanned — and Armagost blocked Rozier twice in a five-second span to keep the Blue Devils in it.

Shaker Heights eventually took a 46-43 lead on a pair of Mel Leach free throws with 19 seconds left. Badowski was fouled in the corner on a forced 3-pointer on the next possession, but the referees ruled the infraction on the floor.

On the ensuing inbounds, Badowski again forced a 3-pointer. This time, he was fouled by Esa Ahmad with nine seconds left, and swished all three free throws despite being scoreless over the previous 25:24 of the game.

Rozier missed at the buzzer to set up overtime.

“You just have to believe in yourself,” Badowski said of the pressure-packed free throws. “I mean, I believe I’m the best shooter on the floor and the best free-throw shooter. You’ve gotta believe.”

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

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.