Brunswick's Kyle Goessler scores over Shaker Heights' Justin Phillips during the first quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)
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BRUNSWICK — Still-decompressing Kyle Goessler looked around as if he wanted someone to hug or at least talk to before exiting the locker room. Those options were unavailable, so the junior simply said a three-letter word to no one in particular.
This night was 100 percent wow-worthy.
Goessler cashed in clutch shots. Nick Felician made everything happen. Zak Zografos protected the rim. Alex Wyatt drilled momentum-swinging 3-pointers. Xavier Diaz flashed his crazy athleticism. Danny Dakdouk proved for the umpteenth time why he’s the best sixth man in Medina County.
Together the sensational sextet completed the signature win of the Brunswick basketball team’s season thus far, doing everything right in overtime to defeat Shaker Heights 66-59 in front of an epically rowdy student section that made the atmosphere feel like a district championship.
The Blue Devils (13-2, 6-1) are second in the Greater Cleveland Conference behind Solon (13-0, 6-0) at the midway point. They also are the only team to hold the Red Raiders (8-4, 5-2) to fewer than 71 points this season, and they’ve done so twice.
“We always have that conference race in mind,” Goessler said. “The fans were bringing it. We wanted to put on a show for them, and we pulled out a tough one.”
Goessler scored eight of his game-high-tying 23 points in overtime, including making 6-of-6 free throws in the final minute. Felician (11 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) was such an unguardable game-changer in the first half that Shaker Heights double-teamed him often over the final 20 minutes, while Zografos had five points, 12 rebounds and three assists while making Red Raiders stars Christian Guess (23 points, 19 after halftime) and Dale Bonner (4 points on 2-for-12 shooting, 6 assists) earn everything inside 10 feet with four blocks.
Diaz scored all eight of his points in the second half, including a no-look layup while being fouled that gave Brunswick a 46-35 lead after three quarters. Dakdouk also had eight points and gave the Blue Devils the lead for good when he drove baseline, induced a double team and half-twisted while kicking to Wyatt (11 points, 3-of-5 3-pointers), whose corner 3-pointer was money and made the score 60-59.
Goessler, Felician, Zografos and Wyatt played all 36 minutes against an aggressive Red Raiders pressure defense that rarely let off the gas pedal.
“Everyone is capable of great things on this team,” Goessler said. “It really helps us because if one guy’s not having a great night, someone else can step up. That’s how this program has been for a lot of years now, and it’s nice to be a part of.”
The game was intense and clean other than a brick-filled second quarter. Brunswick went on a 12-0 run over the first 2:11 of the second half to go up 34-23, but Shaker Heights countered with a 15-3 run to begin the fourth — Justin Phillips (15 points, 5-of-6 3-pointers) and Dakota Cochran each made two threes — and led 50-49 with 3:27 left in regulation.
Eventually Guess scored inside to make it 55-52 and Goessler answered with a hand-in-face 3-pointer. Brunswick tried to hold for the last shot, but Bonner gambled at mid court and fouled Felician with the Blue Devils in the bonus and 21.9 seconds left. However, Felician missed the attempt — Brunswick left open all three one-and-ones — and Shaker Heights had another opportunity to escape.
Guess waved off Phillips’ gesture to set up a play and isolated against Diaz in the final seconds. A pull-up 3-pointer against near-perfect defense went begging, and Zografos grabbed the rebound before taking a dribble and firing a dead-on 60-footer that drew back iron at the buzzer.
No biggie, as the Blue Devils had already defeated Maple Heights and Mentor in OT this season.
“We’re very fit and gutsy team,” Felician said.
The extra session began with Goessler and Guess trading buckets. Wyatt’s 3-pointer from Dakdouk was answered by another Guess score inside — the Glenville transfer had 12 points over the final 12 minutes — and Goessler missed a go-for-the-dagger 3-pointer to give the Red Raiders another chance down 60-59.
Fortunately for Brunswick, Shaker Heights committed a turnover and Goessler went into game-sealing mode by getting the ball at every opportunity. The right-hander then made his 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th consecutive free throws — a school record by a mile — allowing Felician to walk to center court, look toward the student section and wave his arms over his head as Diaz dribbled out the final seconds.
“Wow” was definitely the buzzword.
“This is huge,” Felician said. “It really is.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brunswick 66, Shaker Heights 59 (OT)
SHAKER HEIGHTS 11 12 12 20 4 — 59
BRUNSWICK 14 8 24 9 11 — 66
Shaker Heights — Christian Guess 10-2-23, Najee Hardaway 2-1-5, Kevin Bishop 2-0-4, Dale Bonner 2-0-4, Justin Phillips 5-0-15, Dakota Cochran 3-0-8, DeMaris Conner 0-0-0, Billy Dunn Jr. 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-3-59.
Brunswick — Xavier Diaz 3-1-8, Alex Wyatt 4-0-11, Zak Zografos 2-0-5, Kyle Goessler 7-6-23, Nick Felician 4-3-11, Danny Dakdouk 3-0-8. TOTALS: 23-10-66.
3-point goals — Phillips 5, Cochran 2, Guess, Goessler 3, Wyatt 3, Dakdouk 2, Diaz, Zografos. Rebounds — Shaker Heights 28 (Guess 8), Brunswick 23 (Zografos 12). Assists — Shaker Heights 12 (Bonner 6), Brunswick 14 (Felician 6). Records — Shaker Heights (8-4, 5-2), Brunswick (13-2, 6-1). Junior varsity — Brunswick 63, Shaker Heights 54.