BRUNSWICK — The encouraging signs were everywhere Friday for an inexperienced basketball team still trying to find its identity.
What stood out most was heavy production from the posts.
Following the lead of All-Ohio guard Ryan Badowski, Brunswick’s Eric Bulic, Anthony Slane and Nate Armagost took turns doing damage as the Blue Devils routed Rhodes 86-61 in the semifinals of the Brunswick Holiday Hoops Classic.
The Blue Devils (5-3) advance to face Solon (3-5) for the title tonight. The Comets crushed Lutheran East 81-40 earlier in the night and lost to Brunswick 56-35 on Dec. 10.
“We were originally 4-3 going into the game, and last week we were 0-2,” Slane said. “We obviously needed this, and our mentality was we were going to do what we needed to do.”
The 6-foot-3 Badowski led Brunswick with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists while helping direct an offense whose ball movement was crisp from the opening tip. The other returning letterwinner, Zach Parker, added 12 points and three assists.
The Blue Devils had received inconsistent inside production through the first seven games, but the 6-5 Bulic (11 points, 7 rebounds), 6-4 Slane (10, 3) and 6-7 Armagost (7, 3) looked comfortable while scoring off post moves, pick-and-rolls, offensive rebounds and, in Bulic’s case, from behind the 3-point line.
The unheralded trio combined for 28 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks against the smaller Rams, who were outrebounded 30-21. Bulic had eight points and five rebounds in the first quarter, Slane had five points in the second and Armagost had seven in the third.
“We’re a brotherhood, you know?” Bulic said. “We all work together. We’ve had some tough times together (this season), but we’ve pulled through.”
The big men were the biggest storyline in a game full of good things across the board for Brunswick. Bulic, Slane, Armagost, Jason Okulovich (10 points, 5 assists) and Zach Cebula (11) all set career scoring highs, while Aaron Badowski and Patrick Magalski each scored their first varsity bucket in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils also had two turnovers through the first 24 minutes, dished out 18 assists, made 10 3-pointers and held Rhodes, which dressed just eight players and relied heavily on power forward Darrionte “Luck” Stewart (29 points, 11-of-13 free throws), to 8-for-29 shooting while roaring to a 51-24 halftime lead.
“We became a better basketball team this week,” Brunswick coach Joe Mackey said. “That carried over into the first half (tonight).”
It wasn’t a perfect performance — Rhodes shot a ridiculously high .722 (13-for-18) from the floor while winning the second half 37-35 — but the Blue Devils were more than pleased with their performance.
Now, it’s about getting some hardware and heading into the new calendar year with a positive outlook.
“We lost two games in a row, so it felt good to get another win, to get back on track,” Bulic said. “Now we’ll just try to win this one (tonight).”
|The student section cheered wildly when Magalski scored his first varsity field goal by driving baseline and hitting a layup with 1:20 left.
l Badowski had 15 points as Brunswick’s junior varsity defeated Rhodes 60-38.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brunswick 86, Rhodes 61
RHODES 8 16 21 16 — 61
BRUNSWICK 27 24 20 15 — 86
Rhodes — Jacquese Adkins 2-3-7, Darrionte Stewart 9-11-29, Mario Lawson 3-0-6, Isiah Washington 0-0-0, Kiren Lewis 3-2-8, Jorge Garcia 3-2-9, Brian Durda 1-0-2. TOTALS: 21-18-61.
Brunswick — Zach Parker 4-0-12, Eric Bulic 4-2-11, Nate Armagost 3-1-7, Ryan Badowski 7-5-20, Jason Okulovich 4-0-10, Austin Conn 0-0-0, Steven Ficyk 0-0-0, Zach Cebula 3-3-11, Anthony Slane 4-2-10, Michael Quiring 0-0-0, Jeff Rozier 0-0-0, Aaron Badowski 1-0-3, Patrick Magalski 1-0-2. TOTALS: 31-13-86.
3-point goals — Garcia, Parker 4, Okulovich 2, Cebula 2, Bulic, R. Badowski, A. Badowski. Rebounds — Rhodes 21 (Adkins 5), Brunswick 30 (Bulic 7). Assists — Rhodes 8 (Lawson 4), Brunswick 18 (Okulovich 5). Records — Rhodes (3-5), Brunswick (5-3). Junior varsity — Brunswick 60, Rhodes 38.