BRUNSWICK — Opening night was a smashing success for Brunswick’s girls basketball team.
The Blue Devils held Padua scoreless in the second and fourth quarters — limiting the Bruins to seven baskets in the entire game — as they cruised to a 46-19 non-league victory on Saturday evening.
“We played really well and we played as a team tonight,” said Brunswick shooting guard Courtney Laudato, who had three points, four rebounds and a game-high four assists.
“There were some first-game nerves at the start, but after that, we settled down and our defense was really, really good.”
Senior center Gabrielle Bulic paced the Blue Devils with 16 points, 11 rebounds, six blocked shots and three steals, while sophomore point guard Paige Salisbury tied her career high with 10 points and five boards.
Senior small forward Brianna Moss and junior power forward Monica Wasson added six points apiece. Moss also had three assists and three steals as Brunswick’s all-veteran starting lineup outscored Padua’s inexperienced first five 41-15.
“We just tried to get each other open shots,” Salisbury said. “It wasn’t anything complicated on offense.”
Defense, however, was a much bigger story for the Blue Devils on this evening.
After the Bruins went up 5-0 on hoops by Kristi Vopat and Savannah Heckelmoser, Brunswick immediately put the clamps on — shutting Padua out over the next 14 minutes and forcing it to miss 21 consecutive field goal attempts.
The Blue Devils scored 20 straight points during the span, taking a 20-5 lead before Vopat stopped the epic drought at 7:40 of the third quarter.
“We’ve switched up the way we play defense a little bit, and it obviously worked out well tonight,” said Brunswick coach Halle Lengal, whose squad had 12 steals and eight blocks.
“With the athletic guards we have and the length that Gabbie and Monica give us, it makes sense to play more in the (passing lanes) than we had been. Once we got those early jitters out, I thought all of the girls played really, really well defensively.”
The Bruins played hard from start to finish for new coach Scott Klingbeil, pulling within 32-19 late in the third quarter behind shooting guard Vopat (team-high 6 points), small forward Heckelmoser (5 points, 4 rebounds) and power forward Lea Walsh (2 points, 7 rebounds).
Bulic, though, squashed any Padua comeback hopes early in the fourth with six quick points and two more rejections. Brunswick wound up blanking the Bruins over the final 8½ minutes and outscoring them 14-0.
“Our posts played Gabbie tough and physical, which is what we wanted, but she is such a game-changer, there are times when you just can’t do enough to stop her,” Klingbeil said.
“Honestly, I liked a lot more than I didn’t (like) out of our team tonight. We had six girls playing their first varsity games (including starters Vopat, Heckelmoser and center Jackie Hartman) and I feel like we got a lot of good shots. We just couldn’t get them to fall. We’ll learn from this experience, and we’ll build on it.”
Cassie Steets, Samantha Gut, Melissa Movens, Olivia Gailey and Sam Malleo made their debuts for the Blue Devils. Guard Steets and center Gut scored their initial varsity points in the third quarter.