Multiple Teams · Blue Devils jump to 38-3 halftime lead in win over Mustangs

Obtained from Medina Gazette

Albert Grindle

The Gazette

BRUNSWICK — Highlighted by some dude wearing a full-body costume that looked eerily similar to raunchy movie character “Ted,” the members of the Brunswick student section couldn’t contain themselves.

They knew the opportunity would never present itself again, so, naturally, they let ’er rip.

“You have one point,” they blurted in a sing-song manner toward their Strongsville counterparts. “You have one point!”

To their credit and good senses of humor, the Strongsville students replied, “Yes, yes, yes, yes.”

The scoreboard showed 3:36 remaining … in the second quarter.

Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe Friday, as the Blue Devils’ boys basketball team held the Mustangs to three points in the first half en route a 55-30 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division victory.

Joe Mackey has coached 408 games at Brunswick (4-0, 1-0) and owns its best season defensive scoring average since 1950 on his resume (40.9, 2006-07).

Even he was impressed, especially considering the performance came 75 hours after only seven players suited up for practice due to a team-wide flu bug.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a better half in my 19 years defensively,” he said.

Strongsville (1-3, 0-2) was averaging 69.3 points per game and coming off an eye-opening 74-68 loss to Shaker Heights, which many consider a Division I state title contender, but didn’t score until Drew Robertson made his final free throw after being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 1:26 left in the first quarter.

It only got worse from there, as the Mustangs missed 14 shots, committed eight turnovers and were called for seven fouls before netting their first field goal with 3:23 remaining in the half.

That basket was a quintessential spin-and-blindly-throw-it-over-your-shoulder-off-glass layup by 5-foot-7 third-string point guard Sean Aske. It made the score 23-3 and, amazingly, was followed by an 18-0 Brunswick run.

“In a rivalry game, everyone is coming out and playing hard as they can,” Blue Devils power forward Eric Bulic said. “We executed, ya know? We did what our coaches told us to do on the court: Stay together and play as a team.”

Strongsville finished the first half 1-for-21 from the floor, 0-for-5 from 3-point range and 1-for-3 from the foul line. Even with a 27-point second half, the Mustangs were 9-for-48 (.188) on the night.

Part of the first-half offensive struggles had to do with 21-point scorer Tanner Castora (11 points on 3-for-12 shooting) having two fouls less than 2 minutes in — they came on charges against Michael Quiring and Jason Okulovich — and three with 5:17 left in the second quarter.

The overlying theme, however, was the length of Brunswick’s man-to-man defense, which featured 6-8 center Nate Armagost (7 points, 7 rebounds) and the 6-6 Bulic (game highs of 13 and 10) guarding the paint and Okulovich and Quiring (10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals) manning the perimeter, was too much to contend with.

“They do a good job communicating with one another, and they enjoy playing with one another,” Mackey said. “We said even before the game, when we become a good lockdown defensive team, we have a chance to beat some of the teams on our schedule. I don’t know if we can beat every team on our schedule, but I do know we’re going to have to buy in and play at that end of the floor.

“Today was a good start for us, obviously.”

The wildness continued in a relatively mundane and meaningless second half that began with Brunswick leading 38-3. The Mustangs went on a 16-0 run that spanned more than seven minutes and ended with Bulic completing a three-point play off a rebound early in the fourth quarter.

The Blue Devils still led 44-19.

“We came out slow (in the third quarter),” Bulic said. “We got complacent and it’s a learning experience. We’ve got to come out next time and just play better.”