STRONGSVILLE — When playing a team that is overmatched on paper, it is important to set the tone early and ensure there will be no upset.
The Brunswick boys basketball team did exactly that Friday in its 65-50 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division throttling of Strongsville.
The Blue Devils (11-10, 4-5), who welcomed back All-Ohioan Ryan Badowski (hip flexor), used stingy defense and the play of red-hot Kyle Wheeler to send a quick and clear message to the Mustangs (2-18, 0-9).
Brunswick played physical in-your-face defense right out of the gate and didn’t allow Strongsville to score until 3:50 was left in the first quarter.
“It’s what we talked about in our pregame,” Brunswick coach Joe Mackey said. “We wanted to set the tone defensively and early in the game I thought we did that. I thought we bottled them up early in the game and took them out of what they wanted to do offensively.”
With the “D” completely dominating, Wheeler (22 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) scored the game’s first six points by driving and converting.
“I was trying to pick my spots,” he said. “When I did see an opportunity to slash, I took advantage of it. When lanes were closed, I would try and dish off and find a teammate so I could get them going as well.”
In all, the 6-foot-5 point guard scored eight points as the Blue Devils led 11-3 at the first horn, as the only basket for the Mustangs came via a 3-pointer from center Brandon Bailey.
“We wanted to come out and play really hard from the opening tip,” Wheeler said. “We knew our best offense would be to get out and run, so we wanted to get a bunch of stops and get out in transition. That led to a good first quarter. I thought our intensity was really good to start off the game.”
The Brunswick defense continued dominating the rest of the first half and had the Mustangs down 36-18 at intermission behind 17 points from Wheeler.
“He’s playing as well as any guard in the area,” Mackey said. “He really had to elevate his game when Ryan went down and he’s really taken off. He hasn’t played a bad game in a long time, and he never plays poorly because he does so many things well. He’s had a phenomenal year.”
Badowski, who had missed the last eight games, had 12 points, seven boards, two assists and five blocks and was a welcome sight with tournament time rolling around.
“We have Ryan back now, and it was nice to get his feet wet a little bit tonight,” Mackey said. “Hopefully now we can take off a little bit and finish the season strong next week.”
Power forward Patrick Jarvis joined Wheeler and Badowski in double digits with 12 points and continued his run of solid play.
“Patrick is kind of like our team,” Mackey said. “The second half of the season, he’s really stepped it up and given us a post presence down there. He’s always played extremely well with energy, but he’s starting to play real well down low and giving us a post option.”
Kyle Meehan led the Mustangs with 17 points, while Drew Robertson chipped in 11 off the bench.
|Brunswick won the junior varsity game 53-34 behind Jason Okulovich’s 17 points and Austin Conn’s 13.|
Contact Chad Grant at email@example.com.
Brunswick 65, Strongsville 50
BRUNSWICK 11 25 20 9 — 65
STRONGSVILLE 3 15 15 17 — 50
Brunswick — Zach Parker 2-0-5, Patrick Jarvis 5-2-12, Taylor Armagost 2-3-7, Ryan Badowski 4-1-12, Kyle Wheeler 10-2-22, Alex Hartill 2-0-4, Billy Applebee 0-0-0, Robert Hale 0-0-0, Brandon Zaccardelli 1-0-3, David Reiter 0-0-0, Brannan Magalski 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-8-65.
Strongsville — John McNelis 1-0-2, Alex Barnes 3-0-7, Brandon Bailey 1-0-3, Kyle Meehan 7-2-17, Tom Krokey 2-0-4, Vince Dindia 0-0-0, Drew Robertson 4-0-11, Alex Ruch 0-0-0, John Richisson 1-0-3, Paul Warren 0-0-0, Michael Rizzo 1-0-2, John Klein 0-0-0, Sean Aske 0-1-1. TOTALS: 20-3-50.
3-point goals — Badowski 3, Parker, Zaccardelli, Robertson 3, Meehan, Barnes, Bailey, Richisson. Rebounds — Brunswick 35 (Armagost 10), Strongsville 30 (Barnes 7). Assists — Brunswick 10 (Wheeler 5), Strongsville 7 (McNelis 3). Records — Brunswick (11-10, 4-5), Strongsville (2-18, 0-9). Junior varsity — Brunswick 53, Strongsville 34.