COPLEY TWP. — Pat Forsythe, Joe Puch, Brandon Scotch, Sean Kelly and Travis Larrick weren’t on the floor for Brunswick’s boys basketball team Friday, but it sure felt like it.
As 17th-year coach Joe Mackey put it, the fourth-seeded Blue Devils used “old-school Brunswick defense” to wear down No. 5 Walsh Jesuit during a 50-42 win in the Copley Division I Sectional finals that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated.
Brunswick (14-10) advances to face top-seeded Suburban League champion Nordonia — a 74-69 winner over No. 8 Cuyahoga Falls — in Wednesday’s district semis.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game, but at this point of the season it really doesn’t matter,” Mackey said.
Despite going the first 10:20 without a field goal and finishing the first half 3-of-22 from the floor, Brunswick led 20-11 before its junior backcourt tandem of Zach Parker (game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting) and Ryan Badowski (15 on 5-of-10) turned the game into a blowout.
The Blue Devils forged the lead because of two reasons.
The first was stellar man defense that held the Warriors (15-8) without a basket for the first 6:10 of the game and the first 3:11 of the second quarter. The combined 9:21 time came close to matching Brunswick’s game-starting drought as Walsh Jesuit finished the half 3-of-20 from the floor.
The second was Brunswick attacked the rim against the Warriors’ aggressive man defense and got to the free throw line, as Badowski, Kyle Wheeler (7 points, 11 rebounds), who saw time at power forward with Patrick Jarvis in foul trouble, and center Taylor Armagost (7, 14) were 13-of-16.
Remarkably, the Blue Devils’ went in front 13-7 when Parker broke their field goal drought with a step-back 3-pointer.
“Our defense was key to our victory tonight,” Badowski said. “It’s always nice to get wins in the tournament. We didn’t shoot it well in the first quarter, but our defense kept us in it and we knocked down some shots.”
After surviving a brutal first half — the teams shot 6-of-42, including 1-of-16 from 3-point range — Brunswick still had to hold on.
Badowski and Parker ensured there was no comeback.
Playing in his fourth game since returning from a torn hip flexor, the 6-foot-3 Badowski sandwiched 3-pointers around five straight Parker points. Badowski then saved his best bucket for last, as he grabbed an offensive rebound behind the rim, power dribbled and scored to make it 33-17 before backup Brandon Zaccardelli capped the quarter with a nifty reverse layup.
“Everyone said, ‘What’s it like getting Ryan back?’” Mackey said. “I think we found out tonight how important he is to our team. He hit some huge baskets for us.”
From there, Parker took center stage. The 6-2 two-year starter failed to disappoint after hitting a Medina County-record 10 3-pointers Tuesday against Cloverleaf and went on a 6-0 personal run in the fourth quarter to push the ante to 41-22.
Badowski and Parker, who has made 14-of-22 3-pointers this postseason, scored 19 of Brunswick’s first 21 second-half points.
“I’m not so sure we win that game without our junior backcourt, but having Ryan back helps really us, especially when we were struggling to score,” Mackey said.
The Warriors were led by nine points apiece from freshman backup Mitch Peterson and senior small forward Mark Mittiga. The latter entered play averaging 15 points per game, but was held to 4-of-18 shooting by the combination of Alex Hartill and Badowski.
Despite its big fourth-quarter deficit, Walsh Jesuit found a glimmer of hope by switching to a full-court trap. A baseline runner by Peterson brought the margin to 10 points until Parker scored five straight points out of a stall offense.
Walsh Jesuit then scored the game’s final seven points using an end-of-the-bench lineup.
“We got the job done,” Parker said. “We did what we needed to do.”
|Armagost nearly outrebounded Walsh Jesuit by himself, as the Blue Devils held a 36-16 advantage in the department.
l Walsh Jesuit missed 11 of its first 12 3-pointers before Dom Mittiga and Carmen Seballa connected in the final minute. Seballa apparently is pretty popular, as the Warriors’ student section went bonkers after he nailed his from the corner as time expired.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.