BRUNSWICK — The game got as sloppy as a 4-year-old’s finger painting at times, but the result was a Picasso as far as the Brunswick boys basketball team was concerned.
Having lost three straight overtime games, the Blue Devils put forth a gutsy effort and showed a lot of character in downing a solid Garfield Heights team 56-50 Friday night in Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division action.
“Oh, man, that was a must win for us,” said Brunswick small forward Zach Parker, who had 21 points and four rebounds.
Parker, guard Ryan Badowski and a handful of others made sure the Blue Devils (10-8, 4-5) got that victory against the Bulldogs (12-7, 3-6).
Badowski, who finished with 14 points and five assists, scored 13 of his points in the first half, including six in the first 2:58. Parker scored 18 of his 21 after intermission, including 13 in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Toss in seven points and four rebounds off the bench from Eric Bulic, six points and four boards from fellow reserve big man Nate Armagost, three points, four rebounds and five assists from guard Jason Okulovich and a first-quarter 3-pointer from Nick Furman, who made his first career start on senior night, and the Blue Devils got a lot of positive contributions from a lot of players.
“Three overtime games back to back to back and losing all three, that’s tough,” Brunswick coach Joe Mackey said. “We’ve been pretty good in close games for years, but one little stint took care of that. It affects the way you sleep, it affects the way you eat and it affects the way you walk.
“I give our kids a lot of credit. To come back like that against a very good team says a lot about their character.”
Brunswick lived from behind the arc, making 11 3-pointers compared to six two-pointers. Parker and Badowski hit four treys each, with Furman, Okulovich and Bulic making the others.
“The 3-ball has always been important to us, especially myself,” Parker said. “I’ve lived off that the last couple years.
“It’s a big part of our game. We like to drive and kick because we have a lot of good shooters on this team. When we’re hitting them, we’re tough to beat.”
Playing against a tall, aggressive Bulldogs team that likes to pressure the ball, Brunswick made eight 3-pointers and one two-pointer over the first 18½ minutes of the game.
“They’ve got (6-10 senior) Dave Bell going to OhioState and (6-5 sophomore) Willie Jackson being recruited by every school in the nation, so it’s hard to score down there,” Mackey said. “We knew we were going to have to string runs together.”
Up 38-35 with less than 6 minutes to go, Brunswick started pulling away behind Parker, with hit a 3-pointer to put the Blue Devils up six with 5:40 left and another to make it a seven-point game with 4:36 remaining.
A Parker layup off a long pass from Okulovich made it 50-41 with 1:25 to go, and the senior then made 5-of-6 at the line to ice things.
“Parker’s made a lot of threes in his career, but he strung together some big ones in the fourth quarter tonight,” Mackey said.
Jackson led Garfield Heights with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Bell had 13 points and eight boards.
|The Blue Devils would have won by more, but they went 11-for-19 at the line. Badowski, a four-year starter who was Brunswick’s career free throw percentage leader until recently, went 2-for-9 and is now 13-for-31 over his last four games.
“He’s got the yips, but there’s nobody else I’d rather have on the line,” Mackey said. “I still believe that.”
l Brunswick won the junior varsity game 47-42 behind 11 points from Aaron Badowski.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.
Brunswick 56, Garfield Heights 50
GARFIELD HEIGHTS 8 14 10 18 — 50
BRUNSWICK 15 9 12 20 — 56
Garfield Heights — Vonte Montgomery 3-2-9, Willie Jackson 8-5-22, Dave Bell 6-1-13, Frankie Hughes 0-0-0, Ja’Braun Cox 0-0-0, Kyle Stergis 1-0-2, Kendrick Pittman 1-0-3, Branden Johnson 0-1-1. TOTALS: 19-9-50.
Brunswick — Zach Parker 6-5-21, Nick Furman 1-0-3, Anthony Slane 0-2-2, Jason Okulovich 1-0-3, Ryan Badowski 4-2-14, Nate Armagost 3-0-6, Eric Bulic 2-2-7, Steve Ficyk 0-0-0, Zach Cebula 0-0-0, Austin Conn 0-0-0, Jeff Rozier 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-11-56.
3-point goals — Montgomery, Pittman, Jackson, Badowski 4, Parker 4, Furman, Okulovich, Bulic. Rebounds — Garfield Heights 30 (Jackson 13), Brunswick 23 (Parker, Okulovich, Armagost, Bulic 4). Records — Garfield Heights (12-7, 3-6), Brunswick 10-8, 4-5). Junior varsity — Brunswick 47, Garfield Heights 42.