BRUNSWICK — Shaker Heights power forward Esa Ahmad is being recruited by big-name colleges throughout the country.
The 6-foot-8 junior also is on a short list of the top talents in the Midwest, which he nicely illustrated Friday in leading the Raiders to a 71-58 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division win over Brunswick.
Ahmad amassed game highs of 32 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five steals — making 12-of-18 field goals, 1-of-4 3-pointers and 7-of-10 free throws — as Shaker Heights (11-3, 4-1) remained tied for first place in the division with Medina.
“Esa Ahmad is a special player, and all of the attention that he’s receiving from great college programs is well deserved,” Blue Devils coach Joe Mackey said. “He’s got a high basketball IQ, a good motor and he doesn’t force things on the court. Honestly, he’s a coach’s dream and he was too much for us to handle tonight.”
Ahmad showcased all his skills against Brunswick (8-5, 2-3), ranging from finger-rolls down the lane to power post moves to perimeter jumpers. He also turned offensive rebounds into three-point plays, grabbed boards in heavy traffic and hammered home three dunks in transition.
“Shaker has a lot of Division I college talent, but Esa is something else, just an incredible player,” said Blue Devils small forward Zach Parker, who scored a team-best 27 points. “He was the main reason why they destroyed us on the glass and why his teammates got so many great looks.”
Parker did all he could to keep Brunswick from being blown out, sinking 9-of-15 field goal attempts, including 5-of-9 beyond the arc. The senior also grabbed four rebounds on a night when the Blue Devils lost the battle of the boards 32-22.
Senior shooting guard Ryan Badowski scored 11 of his 17 points after intermission for Brunswick, while senior center Anthony Slane had four points and a team-high five rebounds off the bench.
The Blue Devils played without starting center Nate Armagost, who suffered an ankle injury in practice Thursday and could miss a week.
“Nate is 6-7 and our best rebounder, but him being hurt was no excuse for how poorly we were on the defensive end,” Mackey said. “(Parker) kept us in it the best he could and is starting to regain his sweet stroke, and (Slane) was really active and didn’t back down in the paint, but overall, I didn’t like a lot of what I saw.”
Shaker Heights senior small forward Rosel Hurley, a KentState recruit, also turned in a terrific performance with 13 points, eight boards and four assists. Senior point guard T.J. Steele added 12 points, including a coast-to-coast layup that gave the Raiders their largest advantage at 62-40 midway through the fourth quarter.
There were five lead changes and three ties in the first nine minutes before Shaker Heights used a 12-0 run fueled by five Ahmad points to seize command.
“When you travel to Brunswick, you know you’ll have to play hard for 32 minutes because they are a fundamentally solid, disciplined, well-coached team year after year,” Raiders coach Danny Young said. “What helped us tonight was working on the high-low game all week in practice.
“They’ve gone zone against us the last two years, which has been very effective, so we had to make an adjustment. I thought our guys did a great job executing the game plan tonight.”
|MedinaCounty resident Brad Cavey served as one of the game officials, while former Brunswick and current Baldwin Wallace standout forward Kyle Payne was in attendance. Zach Cebula scored 13 points and Michael Quiring had 11 as the junior varsity Blue Devils notched a 45-42 victory. Fellow sophomore Aaron Badowski added nine points.|
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Shaker Heights 71, Brunswick 58
SHAKER HEIGHTS 15 23 16 17 — 71
BRUNSWICK 13 8 14 23 — 58
Shaker Heights — Rosel Hurley 6-1-13, Esa Ahmad 12-7-32, Courtney Mays 4-0-8, Kaleb Roy 1-2-4, David Wright 1-0-2, T.J. Steele 4-3-12, Ricky Stokes 0-0-0, Dez Hodoh 0-0-0, Ja’Merez Bowen 0-0-0, Matt Podl 0-0-0, Antonio Osborn 0-0-0. TOTALS: 28-13-71.
Brunswick — Zach Parker 9-4-27, Steven Ficyk 0-0-0, Eric Bulic 1-4-6, Ryan Badowski 5-6-17, Jason Okulovich 1-0-3, Austin Conn 0-0-0, Anthony Slane 2-0-4, Zach Cebula 0-0-0, Michael Quiring 0-1-1, Nick Furman 0-0-0, Patrick Magalski 0-0-0, Jeff Rozier 0-0-0. TOTALS: 18-15-58.
3-point goals — Ahmad, Steele, Parker 5, Badowski, Okulovich. Rebounds — Shaker Heights 32 (Ahmad 11), Brunswick 22 (Slane 5). Assists — Shaker Heights 16 (Hurley, Ahmad 4), Brunswick 12 (Okulovich 4). Records — Shaker Heights (11-3, 4-1), Brunswick (8-5, 2-3). Junior varsity —Brunswick 45, Shaker Heights 42.