BRUNSWICK — Brunswick boys basketball point guard Nick Felician was perplexed at first.
Walsh Jesuit began a non-league game Tuesday by defending the Blue Devils playmaker with 6-foot-8, 250-pound center Phil Vincent.
Actually, “defending” isn’t the correct word, because Vincent stayed near the foul line, ready to help on cutters or switch onto 3-point shooters.
Basically, the Warriors were daring Felician, who would much rather pass, to shoot.
So he shot.
Three straight times.
And made three straight 3-pointers.
That foiled that defensive strategy for good and the Blue Devils never looked back in rolling to an impressive 60-38 non-league victory on a night when eighth-grader Kelly Ventura was honored as he continues his recovery from a fall that has hospitalized him for two months.
“I was really confused,” Felician said. “I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ We ran a play and he was still sagging off, so I had to show him I could shoot.”
Felician, who was flirting with a triple-double before sitting the final 10 minutes and finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, had nine points in the first 2:40 of the game.
“That’s different than anything we’ve seen all year,” said Brunswick shooting guard Kyle Goessler, who had four 3-pointers and 18 points as Brunswick’s starting backcourt outscored the Warriors’ 31-0. “They have a good coach (John Norris) and they had a scouting report, but Nick’s a good shooter. I’ve seen him make them in practice.”
If the Blue Devils (12-2) have one strength that stands above all others, it’s that they can find or create mismatches. Walsh Jesuit (8-4) tried something more unique than most teams, but it didn’t take Brunswick long to figure it out.
Even when the Warriors went to a more traditional man-to-man, the Blue Devils continued to roll. They made 5-of-9 3-pointers in taking a 17-9 lead after the first quarter, 8-of-18 in going up 34-23 at halftime and 13-of-28 for the game. By comparison, Brunswick was 8-for-18 from inside the arc.
“We find the open guy and move the ball around well,” Goessler said. “It really ups us score a lot of points.”
Center Zak Zografos had eight points and seven boards for the Blue Devils and held Vincent to three points on 1-for-7 shooting, while Danny Dakdouk had eight points, three rebounds and two assists off the bench.
The Warriors, whose starting backcourt combined for 0-for-5 shooting, one rebound and one assist, got 15 points, eight boards and three assists from power forward Ben Merril and 13 points, three boards and two assists from small forward Maison Ross.
“We just have to see the other team’s strengths and weaknesses,” Felician said. “Then we try to match up our strengths with their weaknesses.”
On a great night all the way around for the Blue Devils, Felician and Goessler were glad to witness the pregame ceremony honored the 13-year-old Ventura, who was permitted to leave the hospital briefly for the first time since Nov. 24.
“It was really special,” Goessler said. “I was emotional in pregame. He has the right mindset to get through all this. He’s really strong.”
Added Felician: “It was really emotional. I teared up a little bit. Kelly’s a great kid.”
- Brunswick won a never-ending junior varsity game 57-46 in overtime. Max Ferrell (19), Trevor Mackey (10) and J.C. Asturi (10) scored in double figures for the Blue Devils.
- Marquis Barnett had 15 points and Quintyn McKinley added 11 as the Blue Devils won the freshman game 49-46.
Brunswick 60, Walsh Jesuit 38
WALSH JESUIT 9 14 8 7 — 38
BRUNSWICK 17 17 12 14 — 60
Walsh Jesuit — Maison Ross 4-4-13, Ben Merril 6-2-15, Phil Vincent 1-0-3, Donovan Morris 0-0-0, Adam Haag 0-0-0, Charles Currenton 1-1-3, Justin Lindsay 0-2-2, Spencer Williams 0-0-0, Colin Reardon 0-0-0, Justin Cottrell 1-0-2. TOTALS: 13-9-38.
Brunswick — Xavier Diaz 2-0-5, Alex Wyatt 1-0-3, Zak Zografos 3-0-8, Kyle Goessler 6-2-18, Nick Felician 4-2-13, Danny Dakdouk 3-1-8, Trevor Mackey 0-0-0, Max Ferrell 1-0-3, Jason Becka 1-0-2, Josh Stacho 0-0-0, Walter Rivera 0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-5-60.
3-point goals — Vincent, Ross, Merril, Goessler 4, Felician 3, Zografos 2, Wyatt, Dakdouk, Diaz, Ferrell, Rebounds — Walsh Jesuit 24 (Merril 8), Brunswick 27 (Felician, Zografos 7). Assists — Walsh Jesuit 8 (Merril 3), Brunswick 15 (Felician 7). Records — Walsh Jesuit (8-4), Brunswick (12-2). Junior varsity — Brunswick 57, Walsh Jesuit 46 (OT).