BRUNSWICK — There were more than 1,000 reasons why Friday was a great night for the Brunswick boys basketball team.
Senior guard Ryan Badowski became the 26th documented boys player in Medina County history to top 1,000 points as the Blue Devils upset defending Division I state champion Mentor 59-56 in Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division action.
“This is a big win for our season,” the Longwood University signee said. “If we know we can beat the previous state champion, we know we can beat anybody. This was huge.”
Badowski, who finished with 18 points and now has 1,007 for his career, got his 1,000th and 1,001st points on a strong drive to the hoop with 6.5 seconds left in the first half. He added a free throw for a three-point play, capping a remarkable 20-0 Brunswick run over the final 5:43 of the second quarter.
“It means so much more when you beat a team like Mentor and play well and do it at home,” Blue Devils coach Joe Mackey said of Badowski’s milestone. “He’s lived up to expectations, and that’s hard to do.
“He’s got a lot of responsibility with this team. We need him to do a little of everything, and he did it tonight.”
A four-year varsity starter, the 6-foot-5 Badowski also had six rebounds and three assists against the Cardinals (3-4, 0-2), but he didn’t do it alone.
The Blue Devils (7-3, 2-1) got 15 points from small forward Zach Parker, eight points and five rebounds from power forward Eric Bulic and four points, five boards and three assists from point guard Jason Okulovich.
By far the more aggressive team for the final 2½ quarters, Brunswick also went 22-for-27 from the line compared to chuck-and-duck Mentor’s 5-for-8.
“Free throws are big,” said Badowski, who uncharacteristically missed three in the final period but still went 7-for-10 for the game. “We came out on top tonight because we hit our free throws.”
As important as any of Brunswick’s offensive numbers was its defense.
The Blue Devils were down 31-20 after University of Cincinnati football recruit Conner Krizancic (18 points) hit a 3-pointer with 5:43 left in the first half, but it was right around that time that Mackey decided to switch from man-to-man to a 2-3 matchup zone.
The Cardinals missed their last 12 shots of the first half, while Brunswick made frequent trips to the line and cashed in — the Blue Devils were 10-for-11 in the second quarter — to jump-start its game-changing run.
Once the free throws started going, so did a few 3-pointers, as Parker made two and Badowski added another in a 25-point second quarter that put Brunswick up 40-31 at intermission.
“We knew they could shoot threes and go to the hole,” Badowski said. “We had to switch it up to confuse them.”
The Cardinals, who at the moment are a far cry from the team that won a state title last season, looked like they had never seen a 2-3 matchup. They scored just 25 points over the final 21:43 and finished the night 9-for-35 from beyond the arc, including 3-for-18 in the second half.
“They were getting anything they wanted against our man,” Mackey said. “A lot of people say that when you play a 3-point shooting team with a 2-3, it doesn’t make any sense, but it threw their timing off.
“Our guys stepped up and made a few shots and we got our confidence back. I thought our defense in the second quarter was phenomenal.”
The Blue Devils never trailed in the second half, but the game was in doubt until the closing moments, as Mentor got within two when West Virginia baseball recruit Caleb Potter (10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) hit a 3-pointer with 53.8 seconds left.
Brunswick’s Steve Ficyk missed the front end of a one-and-one with 19.8 seconds to go, but Badowski snuck behind 6-7 Louisville baseball recruit Kade McClure (17 points, 8 rebounds), who brought the rebound down low, and got a key steal before being fouled with 17.6 seconds remaining.
Badowski made both shots of the double bonus to put the Blue Devils up 58-54 and Potter missed a 3-pointer. A jump ball was called with 6.9 seconds left, with the possession arrow pointing Brunswick’s way.
Badowski split a pair of free throws with 5.6 ticks on the clock before McClure hit a meaningless bucket at the buzzer, giving the Blue Devils 1,000-plus reasons to celebrate.
“It hasn’t been a real smooth ride early in the season,” Mackey said. “This was a big one.”
Brunswick lost the junior varsity game 54-48 despite 12 points from Patrick Magalski and 11 from Kendall Lewis.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.
Brunswick 59, Mentor 56
MENTOR 18 13 14 11 — 56
BRUNSWICK 15 25 10 9 — 59
Mentor — Conner Krizancic 6-3-18, Joey Zaugg 2-1-6, Caleb Potter 4-0-10, Kyle Hagey 1-0-3, Micah Potter 0-0-0, Kade McClure 7-1-17, Michael Ours 1-0-2, Kyle McIntosh 0-0-0, Paul Sateika 0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-5-56.
Brunswick — Zach Parker 3-7-15, Eric Bulic 2-3-8, Nate Armagost 1-2-4, Ryan Badowski 5-7-18, Jason Okulovich 2-0-4, Steve Ficyk 0-2-2, Zach Cebula 1-0-3, Anthony Slane 2-1-5. TOTALS: 16-22-59.
3-point goals — Krizancic 3, C. Potter 2, McClure 2, Zaugg, Hagey, Parker 2, Badowski, Bulic, Cebula. Rebounds — Mentor 30 (McClure 8), Brunswick 27 (Badowski 6). Assists — Mentor 13 (Hagey, C. Potter 4), Brunswick 9 (Okulovich, Badowski 3). Records — Mentor (3-4, 0-2), Brunswick (7-3, 2-1). Junior varsity — Mentor 54, Brunswick 48.