Brunswick School entered Thursday’s matchup against FAA basketball foe Greens Farms Academy riding a five-game winning streak and was eager to add a sixth consecutive triumph to its record on Senior Day.
Greens Farms Academy had other plans though.
The Dragons snapped the Bruins’ five-game success streak, using effective perimeter shooting and strong transition play to register an impressive 69-57 road win. Despite the loss, Brunswick (11-8), is still seeded No. 1 for next week’s FAA Tournament. Though the loss counted toward Brunswick’s overall record, it was not considered an FAA game, so the Bruins still have a 7-1 mark in the conference.
Still, the outcome served as a wake-up call for the Bruins, as they soon begin their journey in the postseason. The FAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, but Brunswick will get a bye in the quarterfinals, so they will host a semifinal-round game on Thursday.
“We came out complacent and just expected to win, because that’s what we’ve been doing,” Brunswick coach Steve Juricek said. “It’s definitely a good learning lesson. Obviously, I don’t want to drop any games, but it’s good to get that lesson out of the way right before the playoffs.”
Senior guard/captain Tristan Joseph scored 26 points, including 20 in the second half to pace the Bruins, who trailed 33-21 at halftime. Junior guard Malik Samms added nine points, while junior 6-foot-10 center Jonathan Sigurdsson added eight points for the Bruins, who played catch-up in this matchup most of the way.
“I doubt that we will see that version of ourselves again, after the experience that we had tonight,” Juricek said. “GFA definitely had a game plan and they executed on that game plan very nicely. They played well and we didn’t. When you don’t come out strong and other teams get leads and you have to play from behind, it’s not easy. But ultimately like I said, it’s better to get that lesson now, before playoffs, than it would be to get that lesson next week.”
Guard Joel Nash scored 16 of his team-high 23 points in the second half for the Dragons, who maintained a double-digit lead most of the second half. Nash and guard Carl Coridon, who totaled 17 points, penetrated into the lane for layups several times and converted key fastbreak baskets each time the Bruins cut into GFA’s lead.
Meanwhile, forward Oscar Edelman keyed Greens Farms from the perimeter, making several 3-pointers on his way to a 21-point effort. Edelman fueled the Dragons’ big first half, scoring 14 points.
Greens Farms Academy, which dropped a 70-63 decision to Brunswick on Feb. 1, in a game that counted in the FAA standings, is currently positioned to earn the No. 3 seed in the eight-team FAA Tournament.
Guard Marius Kaljuvee had five points in the winning effort, while the Bruins received five points from junior forward Luke Michalik and three points from sophomore forward Matt Augustine.
Prior to the game, Brunswick and coach Juricek paid tribute to their three seniors – Tristan Joseph, Charlie Johnson and Henry Caponiti.
“Tristan Joseph, Charlie Johnson, Henry Caponiti – they really changed the whole culture of this program and turned the boys into a team-first group of winners that compete every day,” Juricek said. “We’re fortunate to have three great seniors.”
Juricek also credited the five seniors from the program’s 2020-2021 team – Matt Russell, Colin Mulshine, Aidan Reilly, James Seeley and Jack Michalik – for their leadership.
“They did not have a Senior Night last year,” Juricek said. “The three seniors that we honored today had a huge impact for us on and off the court. I’m excited to have had the experience of coaching them.”
Joseph, who will continue his basketball career at Middlebury next season, has enjoyed his role as one of the team’s senior captains.
“It’s been a tremendous role,” Joseph said. “After this season and last season, I’ve really seen the camaraderie and cohesiveness in the two units that we’ve had, jell together on and off the court. This year we’ve had team dinners, guys are hanging out off the court and it’s translated a lot into our performance on the court.”
The Bruins’ high-scoring guard has also relished his time on the squad.
“There have been a lot of learning moments and bumps in the road, but at the end of the day it’s taught me how to handle adversity and just hone in on my perseverance,” Joseph said.
Johnson, who will play lacrosse at Duke University next year, noted how significant Joseph and Caponiti have been to the team.
“Brunswick basketball has evolved so much in the past couple of years and two people that you can really thank for that are Tristan Joseph and Henry Caponiti,” Johnson said. “The kids before them they were great, there was a lot of fun that was had in Brunswick basketball. But when these two kids took over and started leaving their mark on the program, that’s when it became special. You’ve got five years of captainship between these two, two of the most incredible leaders I’ve been around.
I couldn’t be more thankful for their guidance and making me a better leader and making me a better player, but also leading this team to No. 1 in the FAA.”
Johnson noted that Thursday’s loss will help the team be extra motivated heading into the postseason.
“It’s Senior Night and you always want to win on Senior Night,” Johnson said. “But the bottom line is this is where champions are made. It’s easy to be the best team and be the most athletic team and coast to your wins and when the going gets tough, you kind of crumble. But we don’t want to be a fragile team, we want to be a gritty team that fights back from adversity. It’s losses like these that really burn it into you that teaches you how to lose as a team and I’m confident that’s going to bode for us well next week.”
In a nice moment, Caponiti made the game’s first basket – a 3-pointer from the left wing area – in the opening seconds. His basket drew a huge cheer from Brunswick’s bench and the team’s fans. That marked the first time Caponiti played in a game for the Bruins this season.
Caponiti tore the meniscus in his knee right before the 2020-2021 basketball season, missed the entire season and the 2021 spring lacrosse season. He did not play this year so he can strengthen his knee and get it ready for the upcoming lacrosse season.
“That was one of the best moments of my life,” Caponiti said of his game-opening 3-pointer. “Obviously, the last two years have been tough with a lot of injuries. Coach drew up an awesome play for me. I literally had one moment of glory. It was the one time I played this year and it’s been an honor to play one game in front of family and friends.”
In order to strengthen his knee and build up his cardiovascular conditioning, Caponiti has spent time in Brunswick’s FAA championship swim team this winter. He’s competed in two meets and was part of the Bruins’ FAA championship 200-yard freestyle relay team, swimming the second leg.
“Swimming has been very good for rehab with my knee and quad. It’s good to get back in shape and fully conditioned,” he said. “The basketball program has meant a lot to me. We have been preaching since the beginning of this year we want a championship and a banner.”