It took two overtimes, but the Brunswick School basketball team advanced to the Fairchester Athletic Association championship game by beating Masters School, 58-56 earlier today at Brunswick’s Dann Gym.
“It wasn’t a pretty game and Masters was very scrappy and they fought card,” Brunswick head coach Robert Taylor said. “They played with a lot of heart and played excellent defense. They obviously they did some preparation on us, so some of the stuff we got away with in the first half, they made adjustments in the second half. Frankly, we gutted it out and made some shots that took a lot of courage to take and a lot of courage to make.”
Henry Taylor was the leading scorer for Brunswick, finishing with 20 points. Ryan Hardin netted 11 points, while Dylan Wadsworth and Nick Kono each finished with seven points. Sam Fraser pitched in with four points.
“This is a great feeling and I”ve always dreamed about playing in the finals in front of all my family and friends,” Henry Taylor said. “To get to actually do that is something special.”
Mike Jurznski led the way for Masters with 21 points, while Tim Reitzenstein finished with 18 points.
With both teams going back-and-forth during two overtimes, it was Brunswick’s Henry Taylor that hit the back-breaking shot. With the score tied at 52-52 after Masters connected on two free throws with 2:41 to play in the second overtime, Henry Taylor got the dish and fired the quick baseline three-point shot with the standing-room only Brunswick School fans a few feet away to give the Bruins a 55-52 with less than two minutes to play.
Although Masters connected on two more foul shots with 57.2 seconds left to cut the deficit to 55-54, Henry Taylor ran the floor and calmly drained a running floater in the paint with 45 seconds left. Nick Kono finished off the scoring for the Bruins by draining a foul shot with 7.1 seconds remaining to make the score 58-56.
“This feels great,” Henry Taylor said. “This is the longest basketball game I’ve played in and I’m exhausted, but I gave it my all. I just focused on what I was doing at the moment and not what was happening. I blocked out all the fans and other distractions sand focused on my stroke. I think we wanted it more and showed more hustle down the stretch. This was the best game I”ve played.”
Early on, it appeared that the Bruins were going to walk away with the semifinal victory. After falling behind 7-3, Brunswick exploded. Dylan Wadsworth got the roll started with a baseline jumper with 12:39 left in the first half. Hardin then back that up with a long distance three-pointer to give the Bruins the 8-7 lead.
Immediately after the Hardin three-ball, Wadsworth stole the ball form Masters and hit the easy layup. Henry Taylor continued the scoring run with a layup in the paint off a nice dish. On Brunswick’s next possession, Wadsworth was fouled and hit one of his two shots to make the score 15-7 with 10 minutes to play in the half.
Although Masters’ Isiah Hayden netted a layup off a steal to stop the bleeding, Brunswick didn’t let up, as Henry Taylor hit the top of the key three-pointer with 8:30 to play in the first half to make the score 18-9. After another Masters’ bucket, Hardin helped Brunswick stretch the lead to double-digits by connecting on a baseline three-pointer.
A James Robinson three-pointer and and a Jean Forester layup helped Brunswick close the half with a 26-20 lead. However, that’s when the Bruins started cooling off from the field. In fact, the Bruins didn’t hit another field goal in the game until there was 4:53 left in regulation. Henry Taylor hit the jumper in the paint to cut the Brunswick deficit, which was as high as five points, to 37-34.
“Fortunately we got a huge crowd in here to give us a lot of support,” Ryan Hardin said. “We were bearing down at the end. It is an amazing feeling knowing that we’re going to play for a championship. Once we started playing more team basketball and passing and moving, we started to score more and that’s when we pulled the game out.”
With the victory, the Bruins will compete for the FAA title game against Greens Farms Academy tomorrow night at 6 p.m.
“It’s my first time playing for the championship and actually for all these kids, it’s the first time for them as well,” Robert Taylor said. “We are pretty excited for that. We had a year or two where things didn’t go the way they usually go at Brunswick, but it’s a tradition here that was established.”