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SATURDAY NIGHT “SPECIAL”

BEES COMEBACK TOPS STOW

By Dom DiPasqua/Staff Writer

Saturday night, February 20, 2016

STOW – Much like last night Brecksville-Broadview Heights got six clutch free throws in the games final 48.7 seconds. And that was enough to overcome a 10-point early third quarter deficit as the Bees finished off the regular season with a stirring 54-50 victory over Stow-Munroe Falls on Senior Night in James G. Tyree Gymnasium.

With the Suburban League National Division win Brecksville polishes off a splendid season where it went 19-3 overall and 13-1 in its first season in the circuit. The Bees are outright title-holders.

Tonight’s contest was a make-up for a game that was originally scheduled for Tuesday, however schools were closed here on account of snow.

Mehalik Sums It Up

The Bulldogs Nathan Bower-Malone, a 5-11 senior guard who came into the tilt averaging close to 19 points per outing, was held to just six points by the Bees Andrew Bruno. Bower-Malone canned a pair of second quarter three’s and other than that he hardly got a look as Bruno flat out locked him down.

“The job tonight by Andrew Bruno was the single best defensive effort that I have seen in my 13 seasons as a coach. Bruno went back-to-back against Zack Meder of Hudson and tonight against Nathan Bower-Malone. I’m just really proud of him,” said BBHHS head coach Steve Mehalik outside his teams jubilant locker room. “How many times did Bruno get screened tonight against a team that sets more screens for one of the best players in Northeast Ohio? And it goes unnoticed. You don’t see that in the box score. Stow runs everything for Bower-Malone. The amount of screens that Bruno had to hit. We should put a FitBit on him to see how many steps he has at the end of the night. Tonight it was probably ten thousand.”

Both teams were coming off conference victories Friday night. The Bulldogs played at North Royalton where they won, 51-44, in overtime. The Bees clinched the outright National Division title with a 65-58 home triumph over Hudson.

Despite getting out to a 7-5 lead Mehalik called a time out just a click over six minutes in after his squad committed its fourth turnover. Both teams looked a little lethargic early on. The second stanza was played at a well-coached high-level. Stow had a 26-24 advantage at the half.

Brecksville went cold in the third period. Three more turnovers and a three-point play by 6-4 Bulldog senior center Logan Huffman gave the hosts a 36-26 lead.

Let’s Play Ball

The Bees trailed by seven heading into the fourth. And then they got their legs back. Jared Bazil swished a pair of free throws to tie it at 41 with 5:06 to play. And it was game on until the final horn.

Bruno drilled a trey from the left corner to give the Bees their first lead since the opening quarter at 46-45. It was a lead they would not relinquish.

Senior point guard Dan Auble stole the ball near mid court and his trademark pull-up jay from the line gave Brecksville a 48-45 lead.

Senior forward Dan Harwood drained a set of freebies, widening the margin to 50-45 with 48.7 left. Huffman answered inside, 50-47.

Bruno connected on a pair from stripe with 11 seconds to go, 52-47. And when the Bulldogs hurried the ball up the floor Bruno was on the receiving end of a wicked screen set by Huffman near the timeline. The Bulldogs hit a three on the play with 4.6 ticks on the clock to trim the gap to 52-50. But Auble was fouled under the basket in a skirmish for what would have been a rebound if the shot missed. Auble went to the other end and calmly fired in both charity tosses for the final margin.

The game started out slow. But turned out to be a dandy.

“What you saw tonight was two teams ready to play a game that everyone was telling us didn’t mean anything. It does mean something. It meant something to the guys in this locker room because they are champions!” Mehalik said pointing toward the door. “We talked about, ‘are we just champions or are we true champions?”

Baseline Bees

Harwood led the Bees with 14 points. Half of them coming in the ‘hop on my back I’ve got you’ fourth frame. Bazil, who was saddled with early foul trouble Friday night, made up for lost time with a wire-to-wire 13-point, game-high nine rebound effort. Junior Matt Dimitrijevs sank three long balls for a total of nine and came up with a trilogy of steals. Bruno ended up with eight markers. Auble, as steady as they come, also hit for eight, landed seven boards and dealt four helpers. Freshman Kenny Ganley scored a second quarter field goal for Brecksville’s only bench points.

“I just wanted to come out and play as hard as I could because last night I wasn’t in the game much because of foul trouble. So I wanted to come out and prove that I’m really involved,” Bazil said.

Slamming The Door

But it was Bruno’s outstanding job on Bower-Malone, and he had plenty of help from senior Danny Shirilla off the bench in that capacity as well, that turned the tide in the Bees favor in the fourth quarter. Brecksville’s relentless defensive effort, and playing with the heart of a champion, were too much for Stow to overcome – even on their home court on a night when the gym should have been dark.

“Bower-Malone just came off a 25-point game. He’s conference player-of-the-year material. But we prepared for him. I think we played really well as a team defensively. And we shut him down,” said Bruno. “We prepared for Stow early in the week. And we prepared for them some more this morning. I felt like our team was ready for this game. It was an important game for us early in the week. And it was an important game for us tonight. Being that this is the senior season for six of us, we only have so many of these left. So we have to play hard.”

The Bulldogs were led by Huffman who tallied 14. Stow was perfect from the line but only got there four times. Brecksville out-rebounded the ‘Dogs, 32-19. Both teams hit seven triples. “That’s a special team. and Stow is a special program,” said Mehalik. “They have one of the best coaches in the area.”

Impressive Work

What Mehalik and his staff have been able to do over the course of the 22-game regular season schedule is develop quality depth. What may have been a concern of his in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving has allowed the veteran bench boss to sleep better at night the past several months. Danny Shirilla is a bonafide winner. P.J. Austin has provided a scoring spark off the bench like no other. Ganley has adapted quickly and well to the physicality of varsity level. And his ability to crash the glass has been nothing short of impressive. And as of late Michael Rose, a sophomore call-up from the junior varsity, has made an immediate impact. The ability and skill level of the Bees starting five coming into this season was never a doubt. Twenty-two games later they are as good as any around.

“Michael Rose came in tonight and gave us great minutes. Kenny Ganley didn’t get to play last night. He comes in tonight and gives us great minutes,” Mehalik said. “This is a special group. I can’t describe it any other way. I don’t want the season to end. This is one of the most enjoyable years I’ve ever had.”

What is it that makes the 2015-’16 Bees so special?

“What makes this team special is that we’re not a selfish team. Everyone is involved. We have for or five players that average between 8 and 12 points per game,” Bazil said. “And that makes it hard for other teams because they can’t just shut down one of us. If they do shut down one of us the next guy steps up and makes something happen. That’s what makes it special.”

 

SCORE BY QUARTERS:

BEES          09          15          07          23          = 54

STOW        10          16          12           12          = 50

 

STAT-O-MATIC:

BRECKSVILLE ….. The Bees went 8 of 9 from the free throw line for 88.8% and committed 12 turnovers.

STOW-MUNROE FALLS ….. The Bulldogs went 4 of 4 from the free throw line for 100% and committed 11 turnovers.

 

OFFICIALS:

Larry Riordan, Gerald Parks and Jeff High (a veteran group).

 

BEES STATISTICAL LEADERS:

SCORING ….. D. Harwood with 14.

REBOUNDS ….. Bazil with 9.

STEALS ….. Bruno with 3.

ASSISTS ….. Auble and Shirilla with 4 each.

BLOCKED SHOTS ….. Austin with 1.

CHARGES TAKEN ….. None.

 

STARTING LINE-UPS:

BEES: 4-Andrew Bruno, 10-Matt Dimitrijevs, 12-Dan Auble, 13-Dan Harwood, 31-Jared Bazil.

BULLDOGS: 4-Jared Wright, 11-Logan Lindsay, 12-Nathan Bower-Malone, 20-Nick Kollar, 42-Logan Huffman.

 

JUNIOR VARSITY GAME:

Brecksville-Broadview Heights never really seemed to get untracked and suffered its second defeat of the season, 61-55, to Stow-Munroe Falls. The Bees, who trailed by eight going into the fourth quarter, trimmed the Bulldogs lead to 57-53 with 37.8 seconds left to go in the game on a layup by Cameron Seibert. That was as close as they would get since posting a 15-11 advantage after the first period.

Brecksville concludes its season as Suburban League National Division champs with a 13-1 mark. The Bees, under coach John Silva, went 20-2 overall.

“These are phenomenal kids,” Silva said. “They’re athletic. They’re skilled. But I think the greatest attribute these guys have is that they are unselfish. When you have a combination of those three things, I’ll tell you what, it makes coaching more enjoyable. And the success takes care of itself.”

 

SCORE BY QUARTERS:

BEES          15          14          09          17          = 55

STOW        11          20          15          15          = 61

 

FRESHMEN GAME:

Brecksville-Broadview Heights pulled away in the latter stages of the fourth quarter to bag a 42-37 victory over Stow-Munroe Falls in the 4:00 pm start. The Bees, under coach Ken Cunningham and assistant Jonny Everett, finished the season with a 12-9 overall mark. This after an 0-5 start to the campaign. Brecksville went 6-1 in the second half of SL-National play.

 

SCORE BY QUARTERS:

BEES          08          11          09         14         = 42

STOW        04          07         14          12         = 37

 

BEE BUZZ:

Brecksville-Broadview Heights finished the regular season with a 9-2 slate away from the confines of the fabulous Bee Hive. It was their third win in a row after dropping two straight.

Tonight was the Bees first-ever trip to Stow-Munroe Falls High School. Tyree Gymnasium is a great venue to watch a game in. There is baseline seating at one end. A real nice crowd was on hand. The patrons were treated to a highly-competitive contest. Stow features an old-style Pep Band with a red drum set on a wooden platform. The ensemble sounded good. It was a throwback to an earlier time.

There is not a post-season Suburban League National Division tournament at either the junior varsity or freshmen levels. Both seasons are complete.

Longtime BBHHS cheerleader coach Michelle Hoy has finally relented and has had her hand-stamped before games. The Bees are 2-0 since she has. Hoy is stuck now. She has no choice. If anyone has seen senior cheerleader Ariella Ponikvar’s white game shoes let her know. Ponikvar, who will attend Cleveland State University next year and major in marketing, was about to take to the near baseline in black sneakers. The tough-love Hoy would have none of that.

Drew Sejba, son of Bees assistant coach Greg, sank a half court shot at halftime and was handed a gift certificate to the nearby Pony Express for his effort. “The guy actually let me shoot it from the white (volleyball) line,” said the smiling Drew. His younger brother Mikey “Coach Smalls” Sejba was not impressed. But dad was. “Let’s call now and we can pick up your pizza on the way home,” Greg Sejba said. Former Lady Bee Kaylee Vadini tried a half court shot. Lets just say there wasn’t a post game pizza in her or her traveling partner Kendall Brown’s plans this evening.

 

QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:

“Saturday night with the Bees … it doesn’t get any better than that.” – Sophomore super fan Avery Diedrick.

“I’ve been to The Masters. I’ve been to Fenway Park and to Yankee Stadium. And now the James G. Tyree Gymnasium. They were all on my punch list. Now my life is complete.” – Jim Henyey.

 

NEXT UP:

It’s tournament time. Third seeded Brecksville-Broadview Heights will take on the winner of Wednesday nights Lakewood at Rhodes game in a sectional final round of the Division I Strongsville sectional/district tournament. Post-season play for the Bees begins with a 12-noon tip off Saturday, February 27th at the Hive. Plenty of good seats are still available.

Brecksville is 2-0 this season in Saturday games.

“We’ve been so focused on Hudson and Stow that I haven’t thought much about Rhodes or Lakewood yet,” Steve Mehalik said. “But we’re going to see them play Wednesday night. And we’ll get some tape on them. And I’ll tell you what. Our boys will be ready. I do know this. We as coaches will put the time in. And our players will put the time in. We will be prepared.”

 

See You At The Bee Hive!

To contact: Ddipa67834@aol.com.

Follow on Twitter: @beevillesports

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