Brunswick's Zak Zografos (44) puts up a shot over Mentor's Caden Kryz (40) in the first half of Friday's game at Brunswick High School. (NICK CAMMETT/GAZETTE)
BRUNSWICK — A remarkable performance by Kyle Goessler wasn’t enough to save the Brunswick boys basketball team from its first two-game losing streak of the season.
Goessler scored 25 of his game- and career-best 30 points in the second half Friday, but Mentor held on for a 78-70 victory in Greater Cleveland Conference action.
Brunswick (15-4, 8-3) trailed 45-26 early in the third quarter before the junior sharpshooter led a charge that trimmed the Cardinals’ lead to six, but the hosts ran out of time to complete the comeback.
“Kyle was really good in the second half, but unfortunately, the way we played in the first half cost us the ballgame,” said Blue Devils coach Joe Mackey, whose squad dropped back-to-back contests for the first time since Jan. 2-5, 2016.
“Our defense in the last three games — against Medina, Solon and Mentor — has been horrific. We’re not going to win the league at this point, but eventually pride has to set in. We didn’t show any defensively again.”
Goessler made 8-of-15 field goals, including 3-of-6 3-pointers, and 11-of-12 free throws with three rebounds and two assists. The lone blemish on his evening was the end of his school-record streak of 42 consecutive free throws.
“I came out a lot more aggressive in the third quarter after struggling in the first half,” said Goessler, who made his final 10 free throw attempts. “It felt pretty good being able to get to the rim and hit some shots.
“Unfortunately, this was just one of those nights for us. Mentor threw a punch in the first half that took us way too long to recover from.”
Mentor (12-5, 6-5), which won for the seventh time in its last eight games, shot a blistering 65.9 percent from the field and made 70.0 percent of its 3-pointers. It used a 27-point second quarter to quickly turn a see-saw game into a blowout.
Senior shooting guard Shane Zalba scored 23 points and senior small forward Matt Koski had 20 points for the Cardinals, while senior center Tadas Tatarunas had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Brunswick received gutsy performances from senior power forward Alex Wyatt, who had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and four blocks, and senior shooting guard Xavier Diaz, who made all four of his field goal tries and scored nine points.
“Those guys have been huge parts of our success,” Goessler said. “Wyatt is real long and does so many things down low, and Xavier is just a freak athlete who can guard the best player on the other team.
“We owe it to our seniors to bounce back from these losses and make a strong tournament run for them.”
Blue Devils point guard Nick Felician had five points and a game-high five assists, center Zak Zografos had eight points and two rejections and small forward Danny Dakdouk added eight points off the bench.
In addition to his club’s poor defensive play, Mackey was displeased with its lack of effort on the glass, where Brunswick was outrebounded 21-13. It only had two boards in the pivotal second period.
“That’s embarrassing because it’s an effort stat,” he said. “To have 13 rebounds as a team is unacceptable. We’ve prided ourselves on defense and hard work, especially at home, for years, but it’s just not there.
“We have had a great season and we’ve won a lot of close games, but we have to weather this storm right now.”
Current Baldwin Wallace men’s basketball assistant coach Brian Schmidt held the previous school mark of 21 straight free throws. He was an All-Gazette center for the Blue Devils.
l Sophomore Trevor Mackey made five 3-pointers and scored 20 points to lead Brunswick’s junior varsity to a 57-44 victory.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com. Follow him @BrianDulik on Twitter.
Mentor 78, Brunswick 70
MENTOR 16 27 15 20 — 78
BRUNSWICK 15 11 19 25 — 70
Mentor — Matt Koski 7-5-20, Caden Kryz 2-0-4, Tadas Tatarunas 5-3-13, Shane Zalba 9-3-23, Luke Floriea 3-2-10, Nick Ventura 1-0-3, Chad Blessing 1-0-3, Ben Gingrich 1-0-2. TOTALS: 29-13-78.
Brunswick — Xavier Diaz 4-1-9, Alex Wyatt 3-2-10, Zak Zografos 3-2-8, Kyle Goessler 8-11-30, Nick Felician 2-1-5, Danny Dakdouk 3-0-8. TOTALS: 23-17-70.
3-point goals— Zalba 2, Floriea 2, Koski, Ventura, Blessing, Goessler 3, Wyatt 2, Dakdouk 2. Rebounds— Mentor 21 (Tatarunas 6), Brunswick 13 (Wyatt 4). Assists— Mentor 15 (Tatarunas 4), Brunswick 13 (Felician 5). Records— Mentor (12-5, 6-5), Brunswick (15-4, 8-3). Juniorvarsity— Brunswick 57, Mentor 44.