May 3, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Struggling Blue Devils have lost 5 of 6 basketball games

BEREA — Every good story has a beginning, middle and end.

For Brunswick’s boys basketball team Sunday at the Baldwin Wallace University-hosted Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic, the middle was a comeback story and the beginning and end were of the horror genre.

Ryan Badowski

The Blue Devils started slow, picked up the pace in the middle and fell flat at the end, losing 61-51 to Richmond Heights.

Leading the way for the Spartans (5-2) was senior Rico Jones. The senior point guard completely took over on multiple occasions and in different ways.

In the opening two quarters, he had 13 of his team-high 15 points as the Spartans led 34-23 at the half.

“We just came out of the locker room and knew we had to jump on them right away,” Jones said. “We couldn’t let them stay around. We just had to keep working and keep making plays.”

With Brunswick (5-7) needing to focus on keeping Jones off the scoreboard in the second half, he switched to the role of facilitator with five of his game-high seven assists.

“He’s a great leader,” coach Jason Priah said. “He really looked forward to the challenge of being on the stage here. He steps up to the challenge, definitely.
This is his team. He’s consistent and we are going to go as he goes and he’s doing a great job of leading us.”

Jones displayed a diverse repertoire of offensive skills, showing an ability to get to the basket for lay-ups, pull up for jumpers when his path to the basket was cut off and run the offense.

“He’s one of — if not the best guards we’ll face all year,” Brunswick coach Joe Mackey said. “He’s a phenomenal player and I think those guys have a good chance to win a state championship.”

Brunswick kept it close behind Ryan Badowski (19 points, 10-of-13 free throws), Kyle Wheeler (10 points) and Taylor Armagost (8 points, 7 rebounds).

“We showed some life coming out of the locker room, which was nice to see,” Mackey said. “It would have been better, obviously, if we had gotten off to a better start. Our starters didn’t get off to a very good start Friday against Medina and it carried into this game. We did come out in the third quarter and I thought we executed well and got back into the game.”

Wheeler buried a deep 3-pointer to end an 11-4 Brunswick run that pulled the Blue Devils to within 38-34 with 3:35 left in the third.

The horror story began again for Brunswick, however, as the Spartans finished the quarter on a 9-1 run to push the lead to 47-35.

Richmond Heights slowed the tempo way down from that point on and coasted to the finish line, leading by 12 o more until a late triple from Badowski cut the final margin to 10.

Jameel Miller (10 points), Frank Barber (11) and Arthur Christian (14) joined Jones in double-figures for Richmond Heights, while Zach Parker had 12 points on four treys foes Brunswick.

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