BRUNSWICK — Ryan Badowski has said it multiple times during his illustrious career: He believes he’s the best player whenever he steps on the court.
The argument for that Wednesday was as one-sided as the Brunswick gym.
The 6-foot-3 senior was electric once again against archrival Strongsville, powering the seventh-seeded Blue Devils to an impressive 64-48 victory in the Brecksville Division I Sectional semifinals.
Badowski finished with 33 points, five rebounds and three assists, giving him 93 points in three games against the Mustangs (3-20) this season.
“It’s our rival. We’re pumped and we’re ready to play our rival,” said Badowski, who finished his eight-game career against Strongsville with a 22.3-point average. “When we saw they wanted to come get us in the tournament, we wanted to come get them.
“I just came with the mentality that I’m the best player on the floor, play my game and take what they give me.”
Playing the point the majority of the night against scrappy 5-7 Strongsville sophomore Sean Aske, Badowski showed off a variety of skills en route to the second-highest scoring output of his 83-game career.
The D-I Longwood (Va.) recruit was 10-for-19 from the floor, 4-for-9 from 3-point range and 9-for-13 from the foul line. He scored eight points during a 10-0 Brunswick run to begin the second half, made enough free throws to fend off a one-man rally by the Mustangs’ Derrick Toffey (16 points, 7 rebounds) and caused the Brunswick student section to go wild with consecutive dunks.
It was a virtuoso performance from a four-year starter who has carried his otherwise inexperienced team all season.
“We said as a team we’re going to go out there and make that first jump,” Badowski said. “When we win each quarter, we win the game, so as a team we really came together to get that run.”
Much-improved and 23rd-seeded Strongsville, which lost to Brunswick in double-overtime early in the year after Badowski scored a career-high 34 points, hung around behind Toffey, point guard Tanner Castora (15 points) and forward Drew Robertson (10), trailing just 28-22 at halftime.
Badowski took center stage to begin the second half with 3-pointers sandwiched around taking a charge against Toffey. He then made two free throws following a putback by teammate Jason Okulovich to make it 36-22.
The Mustangs never got closer than nine points the rest of the night. That allowed Badowski to give his sendoff late in the fourth, when he swiped Aske, lost him at midcourt with a behind-the-back dribble and threw down an emphatic right-handed dunk.
Badowski added another slam off a football-style inbounds pass from Steven Ficyk, the school’s quarterback, that moved him past Cloverleaf’s Parker Hewit (1,289 points, 2004-08) and into fifth place on the Medina County career scoring list.
“It was a lot of momentum,” Badowski said. “We came back, put another run on them and got another dunk. We kept knocking down shots and open layups.”
For all of Badowski’s efforts, Brunswick still needed help from its role players to pull off its first home tournament win.
Senior wing Zach Parker overcame 4-for-14 shooting to finish with 11 points, while junior center Nate Armagost added his first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“I just want to give it my all,” Armagost said. “I know Ryan has a lot on his shoulders, and I just want to help him out.”
Put it all together and it was a great night for Brunswick.
“We played like it was our last game,” Armagost said. “We wanted this for our seniors to keep them around.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.