GFA holds off Brunswick in FAA quarterfinals
Updated 10:02 pm, Wednesday, February 24, 2016
WESTPORT — Both the Greens Farms Academy and Brunswick boys basketball teams had the same goals in mind in their FAA quarterfinal on Wednesday. Advance and get a third crack at top-seeded St. Luke’s (20-1), which defeated both twice during the regular season.
It will be the Dragons who hope the third time’s the charm, as they fended off the visiting Bruins 79-68. A back-and-forth battle was decided in the final minutes when Brunswick (9-14) went ice cold from deep — its bread and butter all season — missing its last 12 3-point attempts.
St. Luke’s will host GFA on Friday.
“We had two games that were decided in the last 30 seconds,” GFA coach Doug Scott said. “Every game in this this league is brutally tough; you can’t take any for granted.”
The hot shooting kept the Bruins alive — GFA led 60-57 with six minutes left — before the drought began.
“We missed some really open 3s and we’re a pretty good 3-point shooting team,” Brunswick coach Robert Taylor said. “We didn’t hit our shots; it’s tough to beat anybody when the heart of your offense is the 3-point shot and it’s not dropping.”
Dom Cristiano had 23 points and seven rebounds for the Dragons, who led by as many of 15 down the stretch. Frontline running mate Sunday Okeke had 11 points and 20 rebounds.
“They were pretty multidimensional tonight,” Taylor said. “They have a great inside game and had some guys hit the 3-point shot. They played will without a doubt.”
Dragons junior Evan Roteman hit four 3-pointers to provide the hosts another weapon.
“(Roteman) is our best shooter,” Scott said. “We’re so inside-out, that teams forget we have a couple of shooters. They started double-teaming our post and that opened up our shooters.”
As the Brunswick offense dried up, GFA managed to pull away by attacking the basket and hitting foul shots. Elvin Rodriguez converted several drives into basket and Isaac Manton punctuated the win with a dunk late on.
The Bruins and Dragons split the regular season series in dramatic fashion — Brunswick won 71-68 Feb. 3 before GFA returned the favor 62-59 Feb. 18. The Dragons are 11-3 in their last 14 games and appear to be peaking at the right time as the group has rounded into health.
“Our success has been greatly paralleled to our health,” Scott said. “We’re getting better; we were unhealthy with (Okeke) out, (Cristiano) had to play his position and it became musical chairs.”
Bruins captain Nacho Nwana led all scorers with 28, 15 of which came in the second half. One of the top players in the recent history of the program, the point guard left his mark in his final game.
“That’s how he is, he’s extremely competitive,” Taylor said. “He wants to take a lot responsibility for his wins and losses and that’s his personality. He’s had a very successful three years here.”
Nacho Nwana 9 5-10 28 Cameron Kelly 2 2-6 6 Aaron Sobato 0 0-0 0 Will Marvin 3 0-0 7 Charles Sealy 4 3-4 14 Raphael Ruban 2 2-2 8. Totals: 21 15-26 68.
GREENS FARMS ACADEMY (13-9)
Evan Roteman 4 0-0 12 Dom Cristiano 8 7-10 23 Elvin Rodriguez 6 2-4 14 Sunday Okeke 4 3-6 11 Isaac Manton 5 5-6 15 Bennett Close 0 1-2 1 Henry Holzinger 1 1-2 3 Pat Seegers 0 0-0 0 Totals: 28 19-30 79.
BRUNSWICK 30 38—68
GREENS FARMS ACADEMY 37 42—79
3-pointers: B—Nwana 5, Sealy 3, Rubon 2, Marvin, Binnie; GFA—Roteman 4, Manton.