Despite facing a daunting 16-point, second-half deficit against Greens Farms Academy in the FAA Tournament quarterfinals, the Brunswick School basketball team's confidence never wavered. Having erased several double-digit deficits this season, the Bruins believed they had another comeback in them.
Billy O'Malley, Nacho Nwana and a host of other players made sure Brunswick did.
O'Malley, a senior guard, scored a game-high 27 points, while Nwana, a junior guard, had 20 points and nine rebounds to help power third-seeded Brunswick to a thrilling 86-77 overtime win over sixth-seeded Greens Farms at jam-packed Dann Gymnasium.
"It's an unbelievable win," said O'Malley, who converted four 3-pointers. "When we were down by 16 during a timeout, no one was hanging their heads. We never thought we were going to lose that game. Coach told us this game was ours and we knew our shots would start falling."
Said Bruins coach Robert Taylor: "Our team has a lot of fight and because of that, I believed we could still win that game."
Greens Farms received two bad breaks on the same play with 8 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the second half. Senior guard Jimmy Djema, who was having a brilliant game, hit his head on the floor while retrieving a loose ball. Djema, who totaled 24 points, including four 3-pointers up to that point, sustained a cut to his head, began bleeding, left the game and did not return to action. During the play, forward Zach Baines, who had 14 points, picked up his fifth foul.
"Jimmy and Zach going out at the same time was brutal," said Dragons coach Doug Scott, whose squad is 10-11 on the season. "I was explaining to our sub what to do before I took Zach out since he had four fouls, then he got his fifth foul on that same play. You take two All-New England players out of the equation and it hurts."
Sophomore center Sunday Okeke's putback gave the visitors a 71-69 lead with 45 seconds in regulation, but Nwana tied the score on the ensuing possession, driving hard to the basket.
In overtime, Nwana's foul shot, O'Malley's fastbreak layup and guard Cam Kelly's 3-pointer from the right corner put the Bruins ahead 79-73 with 1:48 left to play.
"Zach Baines fouled out and Djema got injured, which was unfortunated for them," Nwana said. "We just kept doing our thing and came back -- we're a team with a lot of heart that just keeps playing the way we do in practice and that was key for us."
Center Opong Bramble added 11 points and six rebounds, while forward Matt Gendell and Kelly had eight points apiece for the Bruins, who are 3-0 against the Dragons this season. Gendell grabbed 10 rebounds, while Charlie Sealy (5 points) pulled down 6 in the win.
GFA Went ahead 59-43 after guard Isaac Manton (15 points) and Djema each buried 3-pointers. Then after Djema got hurt and Baines fouled out, the Bruins applied their 2-2-1 full court press, which bothered the Dragons the rest of the way.Read Full Article
Bramble scored six points during a 13-0 run for the Bruins -- a spurt that saw them force several turnovers.
"We felt we could press them, for me it was when to put on the press, because it can be exhausting," Taylor said. "As long as we hung in there and were in range, I felt good about our position."
Said Bramble: "Definitely keeping up the pressure on our press and just playing with our heart helped us. You never know what's going to happen, so we wanted to leave the court without regrets. No team wants to lose to the same team three times in a season, so we knew they were going to come out hard and they did."
Brunswick shot just 27 percent in the first half, as GFA seized a 35-28 halftime advantage. Djema and Baines had nine points apiece in the first half, while Okeke scored six for GFA, which like Brunswick, played man-to-man defense throughout.
"We played an aggressive man-to-man, which takes a lot of energy," Scott said. "Our first half was strong, but once they smelled blood, they went to the full court press. We have some guys who are not used to that situation, but I thought our subs played well."
Said O'Malley: "We had a surprising amount of confidence for a team that was down by 16 points. We know we're a good team capable of coming back."