July 23, 2016

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Boys basketball: Zach Parker breaks 4 marks in Blue Devils’ win

COPLEY TWP. — Every hardcore “NBA Jam” gamer knows the cheat code — tap any button seven times at the loading screen, then hold Up, B and Y until tipoff.

Brunswick’s Zach Parker lived out the Super Nintendo smash hit’s always-on-fire mode Tuesday, as the silky-smooth junior hit 10 3-pointers during a 71-48 victory over Cloverleaf in the Copley Division I Sectional semifinals.

Brunswick's Ryan Badowski dunks over Cloverleaf's Brandon Johnson during the first quarter. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

The fourth-seeded Blue Devils (13-10) advance to play No. 5 Walsh Jesuit (15-7) on Friday.

“I’d rather get the wins than the records,” a humble Parker said. “But, I mean, it’s always nice. It’s a good feeling.”

The 6-foot-3 small forward’s scintillating shooting broke four 3-point records. Single-game marks were established for Medina County — obviously, Brunswick’s fell, too — and the Copley District, and the Blue Devils’ season standard fell when Parker (30 points) connected to put Brunswick up 26-2 late in the first quarter.

There was no need for Parker to heat up — as the “NBA Jam” announcer always points out — because he was on fire from the start with six 3-pointers in the first 6:42.

“In the second half of the season, he’s been locked in,” coach Joe Mackey said.

Parker finished 10-of-15 from 3-point range, and could have finished with up to 36 points if not for questionable no-calls on two missed attempts. He tied his own school record co-held by Joe Puch and Cory McMahon by working inside-out with Patrick Jarvis, broke it off a dish from Kyle Wheeler (7 points, 8 assists) and made county history from NBA range after receiving a perfect pass from David Reiter Jr. with 3:19 left in the third quarter.

Parker exited for good 15 seconds later and drew a warm ovation before the backups played out the final 1½ quarters.

“Once he hit the first three (3-pointers), we tried to go man-to-man and I don’t think the kids quite got into him as tight as they had to,” said Colts coach Marty Ryan, whose team finished 6-17. “He had the hot had, and it seemed like he couldn’t miss.”

Lost in Parker’s record-breaking night was a near-perfect first quarter.

Brunswick roared to a 23-0 lead before Cloverleaf’s Robby Buckwald scored in the paint with 2:15 left in the first quarter. Parker’s four 3-pointers at the time were an afterthought because of a two-handed dunk by Wheeler and a SportsCenter-quality, one-handed slam by Ryan Badowski as he was fouled hard by Brandon Johnson.

Wheeler added three assists during the demoralizing run, while Taylor Armagost added three points and three boards before finishing the quarter with a nifty reverse layup.

Brunswick led 31-6 after 8 minutes and finished with 19 assists on 22 field goals, showing the rest of the district it wasn’t about to rest on the laurels of beating state-ranked Mentor four days earlier.

“We’re very pleased,” Parker said. “Starter’s start — that’s what Coach always says — and that’s what we did tonight. We came out hot.”

Cloverleaf was led by 10 second-half points from sophomore Cliff Collyer, who was suspended for two quarters after arriving late to a practice. Classmates Connor Ploucha (7 points, 8 rebounds) and Dillon Mullins (7, 7) also played well down the stretch.

The Colts were thought to be at a huge size disadvantage against the 6-7 Armagost, 6-5 Jarvis and 6-5 Wheeler.

As it turned out, they couldn’t locate the Blue Devils’ smallest starter — Parker.

“Our goal is to cut the nets down,” he said.


Brunswick’s Jason Okulovich scored his first varsity points on two fourth-quarter free throws.

 The previous county record was held by Medina’s Tony Stockman (March 15, 2000 vs. Mansfield Senior in the University of Toledo D-I Regional semifinals) and Black River’s Tim Channel (Dec. 12, 1987 vs. Ashland Crestview). Both performances came in a losing effort.

 Puch’s previous school season record was 57 in 2007-08. McMahon hit eight 3-pointers against Keystone on Feb. 24, 2007, while Puch matched the feat seven days later vs. Avon Lake at the Midview D-I Sectional and against Solon on Jan. 19, 2008. Parker joined Puch and McMahon against Strongsville on Feb. 17, 2012.

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.