SHAKER HTS. — For a boys basketball team that had lost seven of its last eight, everything seemed to be going right for Brunswick on Friday night.
The Blue Devils were coming off their best week of practice this season, and it showed. Shots were falling, their best player had a hot hand and the rest of the team was displaying confidence.
Brunswick built a 10-point lead three minutes into the second quarter on the road against a Shaker Heights team that had won eight of its last nine.
But at the end of the day, the scene was too familiar — heads buried in hands on the sideline, the opponent cheering and Brunswick losing again, this one a 78-58 Greater Cleveland Conference decision.
“We had a great week of practice, and I’m really proud of these kids,” Brunswick coach Joe Mackey said. “We just couldn’t sustain the start.”
The Red Raiders (10-4, 6-2) pushed the lead to 21 with a little more than four minutes left and began emptying the bench. Brunswick’s starters stayed on the court and put together a run, getting as close as 12 and just missing a 3-point attempt to get within single digits.
The charge forced Shaker’s starters to return for the final three minutes, and the Red Raiders closed the game on an 8-0 run. As the teams shook hands after the game, words were exchanged and security stepped in to escort Brunswick’s squad to the locker room and later to the team bus.
The finish belied the start for the Blue Devils (7-8, 4-4), who led 21-17 after the first quarter and 28-18 early in the second. Senior Kyle Goessler was on fire from the start, hitting his first four shots and six of his first seven, including deep 3-pointers, pull-up jumpers off the drive, a pull-up 3 drifting to his left and an 18-footer with a hand directly in his face.
“You ride it as long as you can,” Mackey said of Goessler’s start. “We’ve rode it all, heck, heck, the last three years really now. I really can’t say just how special he is.”
Goessler had 15 points as Brunswick built its largest lead, but he wasn’t the only hot hand. Tre Massey and J.C. Asturi buried 3-pointers in the first quarter as Brunswick shot 8-for-10 from the field and drained all five of its 3-point attempts. Senior Max Ferrell canned another three off a feed from Goessler to push the lead to 28-18.
The bottom fell out from there. It began with a runner from Shaker Heights’ Danny Young Jr. and didn’t stop until the 6:11 mark of the third period, when Asturi hit a three from the corner for Brunswick. The Red Raiders closed the second half on a 17-0 run and pushed it to 23-0 before Asturi’s shot.
“We hit a little lull in the second, and it continued into the third,” Mackey said. “But we didn’t give up and battled back in the fourth. These kids aren’t ready to give up on this season. They’re still fighting, but we’ve got to be better down the stretch.”
After Young’s runner, Shaker got consecutive 3-pointers from Dakota Cochran (22 points, 12 rebounds) before junior Che Johnson (13 points) came off the bench to light the building up. He buried a 3-pointer from five feet behind the line, drained a rainbow three from the corner on the next possession, then hit another 3-pointer from the parking lot to cap the 17-0 run that ended the half.
Brunswick’s offense couldn’t get going in the third quarter, with Shaker putting together an 11-0 run in the middle of the period that included a pair of technical free throws after Mackey argued with the officials. The period also included dunks in transition from Shammah Scott (17 points) and Cochran.
Goessler, meanwhile, was held without a second-half shot until there was 1:50 left in the third quarter and without a point until he hit a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the fourth. The senior finished 8-for-12 shooting, but when he came out for good with 1:47 left, he sat down, hung his head and ran his hands through his hair as though he was wondering how the good start got away from Brunswick.
“People are asking me if I’m all right,” Mackey said of the slump, “and it’s not me I feel bad for, it’s Kyle. He’s used to 16-, 17-, 18-win seasons, and we’re struggling to get up. He puts everything he has into this program. I love all these kids, but I feel worst for him.”
Trevor Mackey had 15 points for Brunswick, including 10 in the fourth quarter to fuel the late comeback. But when Shaker did miss — the Red Raiders shot 67 percent from the field (31-for-46) — they often got the rebound as well with a 36-19 edge on the glass.
Brunswick held Shaker Heights to 21 points in the first half, but the Raiders exploded for 40 after the break for a 61-47 victory in the junior varsity game. Freshman Brayden Hamilton led the Devils with 11 points and Doug Moeller added 10.
Contact Chris Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shaker Heights 78, Brunswick 58
SHAKER HEIGHTS 17 18 27 16 — 78
BRUNSWICK 21 7 11 19 — 58
Brunswick — Tre Massey 3-0-9, J.C. Asturi 2-0-6, Max Ferrell 1-0-3, Trevor Mackey 6-0-15, Kyle Goessler8-2-22, Josh Stacho 0-0-0, Jeff Buttitta1-0-2, Joe Hunter 0-1-1, Marquis Barnett 0-1-1. TOTALS: 21-4-58.
Shaker Heights — DeMaris Conner 2-0-4, Shammah Scott 6-2-17, Danny Young Jr. 4-4-12, Dante Benjamin 3-0-6, Dakota Cochran 9-0-22, Che Johnson 5-0-13, Josh Ailiff 0-0-0, Harry Carroll 2-0-4, Eric Mudd 0-0-0, Alex Benson 0-0-0, Ilan Armstrong 0-0-0. TOTALS: 31-6-78.
3-point goals — Goessler 4, Mackey 3, Massey 2, Asturi 2, Ferrell, Cochran 4, Scott 3, Johnson 3. Rebounds — Shaker Heights 36 (Cochran 12), Brunswick 19 (Asturi, Ferrell 4). Assists — Shaker Heights 10 (Conner 3), Brunswick 11 (Goessler 3). Records — Shaker Heights (10-4, 6-2), Brunswick (7-8, 4-4). Junior varsity — Shaker Heights 61, Brunswick 47.