Brunswick basketball looking for FAA glory once again

Brunswick School senior co-captain Henry Taylor brings the ball down the court during a game last year at the Dann Gym. — John Ferris Robben photo

Brunswick School senior co-captain Henry Taylor brings the ball down the court during a game last year at the Dann Gym. — John Ferris Robben photo

Feeding off the success of last year’s breakout season, the Brunswick School basketball team has the goal of a Fairchester Athletic Association championship in its sights.

Last season, the Bruins finished the season 15-10 overall and 11-3 in the Fairchester Athletic Association, but had a memorable run to the FAA championship game. They beat Masters School in a thrilling double-overtime game in the Dann Gym, 58-56.

“We were a little disappointed last year when we made it to the finals and didn’t win the game,” Brunswick senior co-captain Dylan Wadsworth said. “We are a very good team this year, and winning the FAA championship is definitely our goal this year. We are motivated to come out really strong this year.”

However, Brunswick’s quest for bringing the FAA championship trophy back to King Street last season fell just short, as it lost to top-seeded Greens Farms Academy, 67-42, in the title game.

With most of the team returning from last year and a roster filled with talent, the Bruins are more determined than ever to hoist the conference championship once again.

“I think that this team is motivated by the fact that we have seven or eight seniors and this will be their last chance at getting the FAA championship,” Brunswick School head coach Robert Taylor said. “They know that. None of them have won the FAA title game and they are going for it this year. Our practices are very intense, we have guys going at it and competing with each other. We are working together and there is a great chemistry to the team.”

Leading this year’s team will be co-captains Wadsworth and Henry Taylor, both familiar faces to the Brunswick basketball program as well as to the entire athletic department.

“I love being a captain here and hanging with these guys,” Wadsworth said. “It’s been amazing. We have a lot of seniors here, but the younger players have come to this team and have embraced everything as well. We’re a close-knit group and I’m really looking forward to the start of the season.”

Wadsworth and Henry Taylor both helped lead the Brunswick football team earlier this fall from a one-win team last year to a one-loss team this time around and a trip to the Jack Etter Bowl.

“Dylan and Henry are both natural leaders of the team,” Robert Taylor said. “They play a lot on the court and work really hard, both in practice and during games. This year I expect them both to be more vocal than last year’s captains. They are leading a group of kids that have known each other for a long time, and I think everybody on the team respects and looks up to our captains.”

This year’s Brunswick team will revolve mainly around its version of the core four. Under the basket will be Wadsworth and senior Teddy Murphy, while Henry Taylor and senior Ryan Hardin will be the team’s returning outside shooters.
“We have a good core group of returning kids,” Robert Taylor said. “But we also have some good, young talent as well to augment that. I think that we have a lot of potential.”

“We have a lot of good athletes on the team,” Wadsworth said. “We aren’t as big as we were last year, but we can definitely run the floor and have good ball-handlers. I think we have a good mix here. We’ve been working in practice on offensive boards and I think that’s going to be huge for this team. Last year we found out that we were a little one-dimensional at times, so this season we need to be strong both with our perimeter game and under the basket.”

When it comes to controlling the paint, Brunswick will have it covered, as Wadsworth and Murphy will be a huge presence under the basket.

“I think that Teddy is going to have a breakout year for us,” Robert Taylor said. “He’s a 6’ 7” center who is very aggressive under the basket. He also has an usual skill set for a center, as he’s a really good outside shooter. He could hit 18-foot jump shots, and that might cause problems for other centers that aren’t quite agile. Dylan underneath is very difficult to stop. You can’t keep him off the offensive boards and he dominates the defense boards because he’s so strong.”

Helping out the inside game will be junior Matt Gendell, who will be returning to the team and will be a big addition to the team inside, coming off the bench and helping the Bruins gain some valuable offensive rebounds.

Brunswick will have two new faces to the program, as seniors Alex and Max Skolds will add some height and strength to the team’s inside presence.

When it comes to Brunswick’s perimeter game, co-captain Henry Taylor will be the go-to person for the team. In last year’s FAA semifinal game, he finished with a team-high 20 points and ran the length of the court and calmly hit the jumper to give Brunswick the lead with 45 seconds to play. He also had a team-high 12 points in the FAA title game.

For Robert Taylor, this season is going to be an emotional one, as he had the joy of coaching his son, Henry Taylor, during his tenure with the varsity basketball team.

“It’s nice, but probably more stressful than people realize,” Robert Taylor said. “He’s had a good career here and I’m happy that he’s been a good example for a lot of kids here. It’s going to be sad to see him go. There’s going to be a lot of emotions this season watching Henry play.”

Also returning is Hardin, who hit some clutch shots for the Bruins, both driving the lane and behind the three-point line.
Billy O’Malley, who just finished a highly successful campaign as the quarterback for the Brunswick football team, will return to the basketball team this winter. Robert Taylor said O’Malley will give the Bruins a spark, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

“He’s a high-intensity, high-level player who is also a proven winner,” Robert Taylor said. “He’s going to be very important to the team this season and we need him to continue the momentum he has from last season.”

According to the head coach, Nacho Nwana had a stellar summer improving his game and will be looked upon to continue that improvement during his sophomore campaign.

In addition, seniors Brandon Johnston and Kevin Downs will look to log minutes this season.

“We have six or seven kids that have a solid shot,” Robert Taylor said. “We have no problem giving the ball to any one of them for the open shot. It’s going to be a free-shooting team from the perimeter, more than we have done in the past.”

While the Bruins will have a talented starting group of athletes this season, Robert Taylor said that conditioning is going to be the team’s biggest strength. The head coach believes that a fast-paced game will be a key to the team’s success this season.

“Our quickness is going to be our biggest strength,” Robert Taylor said. “We also have a lot of speed. We are going to take advantage of our strengths. We are going to push the ball up and we have some better shooters this year. I think we shoot the ball better than we did last year, so we are going to be looking for those open three-pointers. If we play slow ball, it might work into the other team’s advantages.”

This season, the Brunswick head coach said, he has concerns with his team’s depth and a young bench. Freshmen Charlie Sealy, Sean Morris and Cameron Kelly, as well as sophomore Nwana will be coming off the bench.

While Coach Taylor knows there is still plenty of work that needs to be done, he still can see this group of Bruins celebrating a championship.

“Our goal is to get better by the end of the year,” Robert Taylor said. “Hopefully that will lead to an FAA league championship and an FAA tournament championship. If we do that, we will go to New Englands for the playoffs. We will take one game at a time and see what happens.”

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