BRUNSWICK — Joe Mackey knew the day would eventually come. How Brunswick’s boys basketball program handles the adversity has yet to be seen.
The Blue Devils are a self-admitted mess, and the latest low point came Tuesday after a brilliant performance from All-Ohioan Kyle Goessler was wasted in a hard-to-swallow 64-56 non-league loss to sub-.500 Nordonia.
Goessler scored a career-high 36 points. Power forward Max Ferrell had 12, all in the first 17 minutes. The six other players had eight on 3-for-17 shooting, and that’s including a 2-for-2 effort from backup guard Jeff Buttitta.
The Knights (4-6), who are tied with Wadsworth for sixth place in the pedestrian Suburban League National Conference, won the fourth quarter 25-14.
“I’ve been here a long time,” said Mackey, who is in his 23rd season. “It’s about as low as we can possibly get.
“I haven’t had this feeling in a long time, but that’s part of coaching. When you do this long enough, you have to expect things like this are going to happen. It’s not fun, but we’ll keep trying to work our kids.”
Goessler made his first seven shots before missing a heat-check, NBA-range 3-point attempt with 2:51 left in the first half. Dominating with mid-range jumpers while driving left, the Hillsdale (Mich.) recruit ended up making 13-of-21 field goals, 8-of-9 free throws and 2-of-5 3-pointers, accounting for the 11th-highest scoring total in school history and pushing his career point total to 1,179.
“That game could have been a lot more ugly if he was at Hillsdale,” Mackey said.
Goessler and Ferrell combined to score the Blue Devils’ first 27 points until Buttitta connected on a corner 3-pointer, but Nordonia trailed only 30-25 because All-Ohio wide receiver Julius Jones already had 13 points off the bench. Goessler, Ferrell and Buttitta scored the first 47 points until Trevor Mackey made a desperation three off a steal that made the score 54-50 Nordonia with 2:12 remaining in the game.
The much more athletic Knights trailed almost exclusively through three quarters but scored the first six points of the fourth to take a 45-42 lead and never looked back. Led by forward Joel Jones (19 points, 9 in fourth) and guard Evan Wiehe (12, 9 in fourth, 7 assists), they made 9-of-10 field goals in the final period as Brunswick’s defense imploded, then cashed in 5-of-6 free throws in the final minutes.
“Our inability to sustain defensive effort and defensive execution was evident again there in the second half,” Mackey said. “And we’re not shooting as well as we did early in the season.”
After winning three close games and annihilating Shaker Heights during its 6-0 start, Brunswick has lost 6-of-7 for the first time since Jan. 20-Feb. 17, 1998. During that stretch, the Blue Devils have allowed an average of 69.7 points, been outrebounded in every game and lost two of their last three despite Goessler scoring 27, 26 and 36 points.
Brunswick has produced 20 consecutive winning seasons and, if one thing is certain, the Blue Devils won’t give up.
“We can go one of two directions, and that second one is just bag it and everyone looks forward to their spring sport or what college they’re going to go to,” Mackey said. “Or we can do what most of the teams we’ve had here do, and that’s grind and get better at this stage in the season.”
Brayden Hamilton had 16 points as Brunswick’s junior varsity won 47-41.
Nordonia 64, Brunswick 56
NORDONIA 12 17 10 25 — 64
BRUNSWICK 15 17 10 14 — 56
Nordonia — Robby Levak 5-0-10, Joel Jones 8-0-19, Robert Watson 1-0-2, Evan Wiehe 3-4-12, Gabe Byrd 2-1-5, Harry Harris 0-0-0, Julius Jones 5-2-13, John Henderson 0-0-0, Jordan Jones 1-1-3, Justin Byrd 0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-8-64.
Brunswick — Tre Massey 0-0-0, Max Ferrell 5-0-12, Josh Stacho 0-0-0, Trevor Mackey 1-0-3, Kyle Goessler 13-8-36, Joe Hunter 0-0-0, Jeff Buttitta 2-0-5, J.C. Asturi 0-0-0 TOTALS: 21-8-56.
3-point goals — Joel Jones 3, Wiehe 2, Ju. Jones, Goessler 2, Ferrell 2, Mackey, Buttita. Rebounds — Nordonia 24 (Joel Jones 7), Brunswick 20 (Ferrell 5). Assists — Nordonia 15 (Wiehe 7), Brunswick 8 (Stacho 4). Records — Nordonia (4-6), Brunswick (7-6). Junior varsity — Brunswick 47, Nordonia 41.