A lot of coincidental factors have contributed to it, but a torn left hip flexor to leading scorer Ryan Badowski has been a blessing in disguise for the offense of Brunswick’s boys basketball team.
In the absence of the 17-point scorer and All-Gazette point guard, the Blue Devils have won two of their last three games — the loss being a competitive 69-63 decision to Mentor — with Kyle Wheeler and Zach Parker shining in the backcourt.
Even considering the victories came against one-win Strongsville and sub.-500 Stow, there’s no denying Brunswick (7-8, 1-4) is pumping in the points with an impressive 69.0 average.
“The ball is moving a lot more and our shooting percentages are way up,” coach Joe Mackey said. “That’s something we’ve stressed the last month. One of the reasons our shooting percentage was so low was because we weren’t taking great shots.
“Obviously, we’re much better with Ryan and much more dangerous, but what we’ve seen in his absence is more balance. Even when he returns, we need to focus on that.”
The 6-foot-5 Wheeler has replaced Badowski at point guard and is averaging 21.7 points over the past three games. Parker, meanwhile, is shooting 20-of-45 from 3-point range and 29-of-64 overall while averaging 17.0 points since the calendar hit 2013.
The unselfish perimeter play — versatile Alex Hartill is now the starting small forward — also has opened things on the block for center Taylor Armagost (12.3 ppg over last three games) and power forward Patrick Jarvis (7.7).
“Zach and Kyle have really stepped up for us,” Mackey said. “They’re just feeding off each other. Our offense is starting to click. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence.”
According to Mackey, Badowski is on crutches and has been battling leg numbness. He will receive an update Monday, and Mackey is hoping the son of former 1980s Blue Devils standout Greg Badowski can return for the final week of the regular season.
Black River (0-13, 0-9)
Senior guard Jerod England has scored 21 points over the past three games.
l Black River’s season average of 17.8 turnovers is more than a 30 percent improvement over last season.
l The Pirates play six of their final nine regular-season games at home.
Brunswick (7-8, 1-4)
The Akron City Series’ top duo will lock horns with the suddenly surging Blue Devils on Saturday at the Walsh University-hosted Dunk4Diabetes Shootout.
Tip-off is 2:30 p.m. Firestone center Jerome Lane averages 20.3 points, while small forward Kevin Gladney puts up 19.8. Gladney is a Nebraska wide receiver recruit, and Lane is headed for Terry Bowden’s Akron gridiron team as an athlete.
l Freshman Zach Cebula made his varsity debut Tuesday at Stow.
Buckeye (9-4, 6-3)
The Bucks are off to their best start since 1982-83, when they finished second in the Inland Conference West Division to Independence.
l Buckeye is allowing a respectable 48.0 points over its last six games.
l The junior varsity has won five of its last six games to improve to 8-4 overall.
Cloverleaf (3-11, 1-7)
Senior forward Robby Buckwald, sophomore guard Cliff Collyer and junior guard Adam Podolak have made 100 of the team’s 156 free throws.
l Sophomore forward Connor Ploucha is averaging 6.0 points over the past four games.
l Dillon Mullins made his varsity debut last week against Wadsworth. The sophomore center’s father, Darren, played for Cloverleaf from 1984-87.
l Fun fact: Tonight’s opponent, Suburban League-leading Nordonia (12-2, 8-0), has scored between 71 and 77 points in each of its last eight games.
Highland (8-6, 4-4)
The Hornets are 8-2 when their leading scorer nets 15 or more points.
l Senior center Austin Adams needs 64 career points to become the 13th player in school history to reach 700.
l Sophomore forward Brogan Scott scored his 400th career point Tuesday against North Royalton.
l After losing to Green and North Royalton by a combined 33 points — those teams have a combined 26-2 record — Highland gets a break with SL bottom feeders Revere (1-12, 1-7), Tallmadge (3-10, 2-6) and Cloverleaf (3-10, 1-7) in three of its next four games. The fourth is a tough one, however, against Zack Brandy-led Hudson (9-4) on Tuesday.
Medina (8-6, 2-3)
Center Jon Teske’s 10 points Tuesday against Wadsworth were a career high.
l Medina didn’t attempt a free throw against the Grizzlies until Branden Wilkins split a pair with 7:36 left in the game. The Bees finished 7-of-13, but countered by committing just two turnovers in the quarter.
l Medina is 8-2 when it wins the fourth quarter.
l Backup Tyler King missed Tuesday’s win over Wadsworth with a sprained foot. He will not play tonight at Solon, but will likely return for next week’s game at Bowling Green.
Wadsworth (7-6, 6-2)
Dating back to last season, the Grizzlies have won nine of their last 11 road games. They have a tough matchup tonight at Green (13-1, 7-1), which won the first SL meeting 61-50.
l Wadsworth didn’t attempt a free throw Tuesday at Medina until Anthony Palecek stepped to the stripe with 1:04 left in the first half. The Grizzlies finished 5-of-10.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.