Brunswick survives Mentor in clash of Cleveland powers

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Brunswick 61, Mentor 59
The Mentor boys basketball team often creates more turnovers than an average bakery chef. The full-court press employed by veteran coach Bob Krizancic has been
frustrating opponents for a generation. But Brunswick handled it with
ease Tuesday night. The result was a 61-59 victory over the visiting Cardinals in a
non-league clash of suburban powers from opposite ends of Cleveland.


BRUNSWICK – The Mentor boys basketball team often creates more turnovers than an average bakery chef.

The full-court press employed by veteran coach Bob Krizancic has been frustrating opponents for a generation. But Brunswick handled it with ease Tuesday night.

The result was a 61-59 victory over the visiting Cardinals in a non-league clash of suburban powers from opposite ends of Cleveland. The Blue Devils committed just two turnovers in the backcourt against Mentor’s frantic trapping defense.

On the other side of the court, Brunswick sophomore center Tyler Ferrell gathered in lob pass after lob pass for easy layups, particularly in the first half, and finished with a career-high 24 points. By the time the Cardinals began denying the entry feed to him, they were in full catch-up mode.

“We worked all week on passing the ball down low because we knew we had a big height advantage,” Ferrell explained. “They started taking away the low post and I got into a little foul trouble in the second half, so I had to play a little softer.”

Ferrell indeed picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter and left the game briefly. Mentor, which had trailed throughout, had chopped the deficit to 39-37 late in the third quarter on a put-back by Mike Johanek, but Brunswick (9-2) shoved it back out to 47-37 on a Jassen Kavedzik layup off a full-court pass

The Cardinals (12-3) spent the rest of the game throwing one heck of a scare into the Blue Devils. They cut it to 58-55 on a driving layup by senior guard Joe Meyer, who entered averaging 20 points a game, but was held to one basket in the first three quarters and 12 points overall. Another layup by Scott Branchick (game-high 26 points) made it 60-57, but talented Brunswick guard Joe Puch (16 points) put it away by hitting a foul shot.

In the end, Mentor simply ran out of time.

“We need both Joe and Scott to score,” Krizancic said. “We just couldn’t get a lot of good shots. Joe has been shooting poorly the last couple games, which is very uncharacteristic of him. Their zone forced us out and they did a good job clamping down on all our guards.

“Offensively, they did a solid job against our press, so we weren’t able to get our transition game going. And early on, they were doing a good job of kicking the ball down low to their big guys. We didn’t want to play a half-court game. We were looking for a score in the 70s, but we got one in the 50s.”

At halftime, it didn’t appear the Cardinals would even score that many. The stingy Blue Devils held them to a measly five points in the second quarter, after which they led 29-20. But Branchick caught fire in the third, exploding for 12 points to keep his team alive.

It seemed Brunswick would bury Mentor at the line when it hit its first six foul shots in the third quarter and continued to drain them early in the fourth. But they clanked several down the stretch to keep the Cardinals alive.

That, however, was only a slight negative in a night of positives for the Blue Devils. Hence the smile on coach Joe Mackey’s face following the game.

“This was a real big win for us,” he said. “Our spacing was very good against the press. We did miss a few free throws, but I thought we did a great job attacking their pressure. Against Mentor, you have to take care of the ball and guard against their three-point game.

“I thought we also did a great job pounding the ball into Tyler. We knew we had an advantage down low. And when they took Tyler away down low by fronting him with backside help, we did a great job skipping the ball to the backside. We threw the book at them offensively.”

The book about breaking the full-court press so easily? That’s one the Cardinals are rarely forced to read.

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