August 31, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
72°F

Boys basketball: Blue Devils must handle pressure defense

COPLEY TWP. — The contrast in tempo will be striking, but it won’t faze Brunswick’s boys basketball team in the slightest.

Six days after beating physical, slow-down Walsh Jesuit, the fourth-seeded Blue Devils (14-10) will get a heavy dose of full-court pressure tonight from top-seeded Nordonia (20-3) in the Copley Division I District semifinals.

Brunswick's Ryan Badowski throws down a dunk during a Blue Devils game against Mentor. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

The winner advances to face No. 3 Hudson (19-4) or Stow (12-12), the district’s Cinderella, for the championship Saturday.

“They’re good,” Brunswick guard Zach Parker said. “They’re the (No.) 1 seed for a reason.”

The Suburban League champion Knights moved on with a tense 74-69 decision over eighth-seeded Cuyahoga Falls in which they trailed by eight points in the second half. The Blue Devils used outstanding defense to upend the Warriors 50-42 after shooting 3-of-22 in the first half.

Nordonia is led by 6-foot-6 left-hander Chris Scott, generally regarded as the best player in the SL after Green’s Dan Fanelly.

Scott averages a team-best 17.0 points, but has an athletic supporting cast in sharpshooter Nick Piotrowski (14.0, 48 3-pointers) and versatile sophomores Max Hartman (7.1) and Alex Alders (6.6), who had 16 points against the Black Tigers. Point guard Eli Linder and forwards Eugene Coleman and Dameon Luster also have contributed to a transition-heavy offense that averages 69.7 points.

The Knights’ three losses are to Uniontown Lake (66-49 on Dec. 8), Twinsburg (73-71 on Jan. 8) and Green (68-51 on Feb. 22). All but Twinsburg are still alive in the tournament.

“They’re the best team out here, but I don’t think our kids are going to back down,” Blue Devils coach Joe Mackey said. “I think it will be a great game, and I think we’ll have a shot at the end to advance.”

Playing in the rugged Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division, Brunswick has won nine of its last 12 games, with the losses coming by a combined 12 points.

The three-pronged backcourt of 6-5 senior Kyle Wheeler (16.6 ppg, 42 3-pointers), 6-3 junior Ryan Badowski (16.1, 33) and 6-2 junior Parker (13.0, school-record 67) remains its strong suit, though the defense of 6-7 Taylor Armagost (8.0) and 6-5 Patrick Jarvis (6.0) will be critical against arguably the best center in the district.

The Knights are looking to atone for a district semifinal loss to Medina a year ago, so all signs point to another dandy at a tournament that has already seen four overtimes and three upsets in eight games.

“(Their style of play is) nothing we haven’t seen with the type of schedule we’ve had,” Parker said.

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

TONIGHT

WHO: Brunswick (14-10) vs. Nordonia (20-3)
WHEN: 7
WHERE: Copley High School, 3807 Ridgewood Road