September 23, 2014

Medina
Sunny
42°F

Wheeler lifts Blue Devils to NOC upset

Brunswick's Robert Hale races the ball up court with Garfield Height's Robert Hurst defending during the second quarter. (Judd Smerglia)

Dan Brown

The Gazette

BRUNSWICK — Kyle Wheeler missed his two shot attempts early in Friday’s game against Garfield Heights.

They were about the only two things that went wrong for the Brunswick senior guard as he put on an offensive clinic in 71-45 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division victory.

After clanking his first two shots, Wheeler made 11 of his next 12 en route to a career-high 33 points to lead Brunswick (10-9, 3-4) to its second NOC upset of the week. The Blue Devils won a 44-42 thriller over Shaker Heights on Tuesday.

“I missed a couple early, but Coach (Joe Mackey) told me to keep shooting, so I hit a couple and got some rhythm,” said Wheeler, who also had five rebounds, four assists and three steals. “I was in rhythm the whole night and my teammates kept feeding me the ball.”

That ‘rhythm’ had Brunswick fans going crazy every time the 6-foot-5 guard drained a shot and Garfield Heights coach Sonny Johnson and his staff scratching their heads.

After the Blue Devils stormed back to lead 16-15 at the end of the first quarter, Wheeler put them on his back.

Wheeler hit three of his game-high four 3-pointers in a 17-7 second quarter. He added his fourth on the first possession of the second half en route to a 12-point third quarter.

His efforts helped turn an 11-point game into a 21-point laugher.

“It was a nice butt-whipping. I haven’t had one of those in a while,” Johnson said. “They were so patient on offense and moving the ball … sometimes you just have that night and (Wheeler) had that night.”

How good was Wheeler? Every time the Bulldogs (13-4, 5-2) gained an inch of momentum, his physical perimeter play made things happen. When Garfield Heights hit a shot, Wheeler responded with a runner in the lane. When the Bulldogs scored again, Wheeler countered with a falling layup in transition.

Heck, he didn’t miss a shot inside the arc all night, and it was a hot streak he didn’t even realize until late in the game.

 “Actually, I didn’t have any idea until I was on the free throw line and made a free throw and Alex Hartill came up and shook my hand and said, ‘You know you’re at 30 right now.’” Wheeler said. “I turned around, looked at the scoreboard and, sure enough, there it was.

“They were playing up in me the entire game, and when teams do that, it’s a lot easier getting to the basket. So I tried not to settle from the outside, attack the rim and get myself shots and shots for my teammates as well.”

That’s no shock to Mackey, who has seen his team deal with suspensions, injuries and one of the area’s most difficult schedules.

“He’s been as consistent as you can get,” Mackey said of Wheeler. “It’s no secret. Garfield Heights has four kids that will play Division I college basketball on their team, but Kyle was the best player of the floor tonight, and it wasn’t even that close. He’s been that guy all year long for us.

“He’s been the glue of this team and he refused to let Garfield Heights make any kind of run on us after we built a big lead.”

For all of Wheeler’s exploits, the quality win was a team effort.

The frontcourt tandem of Taylor Armagost (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Patrick Jarvis (11, 8) set the tone early and made things difficult for the Bulldogs on the interior.

Combine them with the solid play of Zach Parker and Hartill, along backup guard Robert Hale, who controlled the offense and was tenacious on defense, and the Blue Devils are finding their chemistry at the right time of year.

After Garfield Heights’ Dave Wright scored 10 points in the first quarter, Brunswick’s defense held him to just two shot attempts the rest of the way with a 2-3 zone defense that also limited shooters Al Burge and Richard Parker to just 11 combined points.

Suffice to say, the Blue Devils have come a long way.

“There was a time about a month ago where this team could’ve easily folded,” Mackey said. “But they come back every day and keep striving to get better. It’s just nice to see these kids get rewarded with two big wins.

“We’re excited to play basketball this time of year. About a month ago, I don’t know if anyone in our community might have thought that this is possible, but our kids are getting better. They’re getting a lot better.”

Notes

All-Gazette point guard Ryan Badowski was in uniform, but didn’t play. The junior has been sidelined with hip flexor injury.l Jason Okulovich had 15 points and Nate Armagost added 13 as Brunswick’s junior varsity squad defeated Garfield Heights 47-31.

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.

Brunswick 71, Garfield Heights 45

GARFIELD HTS.                        15  7  16  7  —  45

BRUNSWICK                        16  17  26  12  —  71

Garfield Heights — Al Burge 1-3-6, Dave Bell 2-1-5, Dave Wright 6-1-14, Willie Jackson 4-0-8, Robert Hurst 3-1-8, Richard Parker 1-1-4, Branden Johnson 0-0-0, Shamar Glover 0-0-0, JaBraun Cox 0-0-0, Demetrius Collier 0-0-0, Frankie Hughes 0-0-0, Kyle Stergis 0-0-0, Raymel Franklin 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-7-45.

Brunswick — Alex Hartill 2-0-4, Patrick Jarvis 3-4-11, Taylor Armagost 4-4-12, Zach Parker 3-0-8, Kyle Wheeler 11-7-33, Robert Hale 1-0-3, Billy Applebee 0-0-0, Brandon Zaccardelli 0-0-0, Brennan Magalski 0-0-0, David Reiter Jr. 0-0-0, Nate Armagost 0-0-0, Eric Bulic 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-15-71.

3-point goals — Hurst, Burge, Wright, Parker, Wheeler 4, Parker 2, Jarvis, Hale. Rebounds — Garfield Heights 17 (Burge 5), Brunswick 25 (Jarvis 8). Assists — Garfield Heights 11 (Hurst 7), Brunswick 12 (Wheeler 4). Records — Garfield Heights (13-4, 5-2), Brunswick (10-9, 3-4). Junior varsity — Brunswick 47, Garfield Hts 31.