BRUNSWICK — One of the best individual scoring halves in school history wasn’t enough to save the Brunswick girls basketball team.
The first-half defense of neighboring rival Strongsville had a lot to do with that.
Holding the Blue Devils to single digits when the halftime buzzer sounded Wednesday, the Mustangs applied valuable lessons from the first Greater Cleveland Conference meeting and held on 46-35 in a game that bordered on blowout status for 2ﾽ quarters.
Brunswick (12-7, 8-4) cut a 22-9 halftime deficit to 39-33 with 3:47 remaining thanks to 19 second-half points from All-Gazette point guard Eileen Salisbury (22 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) before committing four turnovers and missing two 3-pointers on its next six possessions.
“We obviously couldn’t score,” Salisbury said. “Nine points in a half is not good at all, and we kept getting beat off transition layups. On the defensive end we weren’t playing hard.”
The bottom line was the Mustangs (14-3, 10-2), who clinched a share of second place in the GCC and will be favored to win the weak Elyria Catholic Division I District next month, were outstanding defensively in the first half. Brunswick was 3-for-21 from the floor and committed eight turnovers, giving opportunities for Kent State recruit Lindsey Thall (21 points, 5 steals) to score at the other end.
In a 56-44 Strongsville win on Dec. 13, the Blue Devils got a ton of good looks but missed 15 consecutive 3-pointers. The Mustangs adjusted Wednesday by switching or hedging against Brunswick’s handoff-heavy offense, and the Blue Devils missed 12 straight 2-pointers before a banked foul line jumper by Gabbi Campbell (5 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals) with 6:16 left in the third quarter.
“They pressured a lot harder, I think, and they switched everything,” Salisbury said. “We can deal with it, but we’re not very used to it. We obviously are a shooting team. If we’re not on, it’s going to be a rough night.”
To the credit of coach Halle Schmidt’s undersized team, Brunswick kept scrapping for 50/50 balls and chucking away. Eventually, Strongsville lost defensive discipline a bit and Salisbury got semi-contested looks from college 3-point range.
The four-year letterwinner was the best player on the floor in the second half (7-of-12 field goals, 5-of-10 3-pointers) and initially gave the Blue Devils life with back-to-back threes that made the score 30-22 in the third quarter. Strongsville countered with eight points in the quarter from forward Marnae Holland (16 points) to lead 33-22 at the break.
But Salisbury wasn’t done, scoring eight more points to get to 39-33. The Blue Devils, who also got five assists from Angela Fink, then simply ran out of steam, as Thall got loose for a cutting layup and Thall, Drew Robinson (4 points, 5 assists) and Holland closed the Mustangs’ scoring at the foul line.
The only Brunswick scoring over the final 3:47 came on two free throws by Anna Krizsa with 11.1 seconds remaining.
“(We were) just thinking it was a rivalry game,” Salisbury said. “I know the seniors, me and (Campbell), we were thinking this is the last time we’re going to play Strongsville because we’re not going to see them in the tournament.
“We had to give it our all. We couldn’t give up after a half.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strongsville 46, Brunswick 35
STRONGSVILLE 11 11 11 13 — 46
BRUNSWICK 6 3 13 13 — 35
Strongsville — Madison Pavone 0-0-0, Marnae Holland 7-2-16, Lindsey Thall 7-5-21, Abbi Moore 0-0-0, Drew Robinson 1-2-4, Regan Bass 1-1-3, Sarah Robertson 0-0-0, Shelby Sallee 0-0-0, Maddy Humbach 1-0-2. TOTALS: 17-10-46.
Brunswick — Gabbi Campbell 2-0-5, Angela Fink 1-1-3, Maddy Grabowski 0-0-0, Natalie Galaida 1-0-3, Eileen Salisbury 8-0-22, Anna Krizsa 0-2-2, Maddy Ramicone 0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-3-35.
3-point goals — Thall 2, Salisbury 6, Campbell, Galaida. Rebounds — Strongsville 23 (Robertson 6), Brunswick 24 (Campbell 7). Assists — Strongsville 12 (Robinson 5), Brunswick 6 (Fink 5). Records — Strongsville (14-3, 10-2), Brunswick (12-7, 8-4). Junior varsity — Brunswick 53, Strongsville 41.