Defeated by St. Luke’s School in the 2022 FAA Tournament final, the Brunswick School basketball team was determined to not experience another postseason loss tonight on its home court against its biggest league rival.
The Bruins weren’t going to be denied tonight when they faced the Storm in tonight’s FAA Tournament semifinals in a rematch of last season’s championship game.
Like last season’s title game, the Bruins jumped out to an early double-digit lead, but like last year, the Storm battled back and faced just a three-point deficit heading into halftime.
However, this time, Brunswick finished, earning another appearance in the tournament’s championship game.
Junior forward Wyatt Triestman scored 18 points and sophomore guard Ethan Long added 11 points for top-seeded Brunswick in its hard-fought 54-43 win over visiting fourth-seeded foe St. Luke’s, before a large, enthusiastic crowd at Dann Gymnasium.
“They have a great program, it’s always a fight every single time,” Brunswick coach Steve Juricek said of playing against St. Luke’s. “It’s never easy against St. Luke’s.”
Senior forward Luke Michalik scored eight points and provided strong defensive play, senior center Jon Sigurdsson posted eight points and sophomore guard Will Graves contributed seven points for the Bruins (18-5, 9-0 FAA).
The Bruins will host second-seeded Greenwich Country Day School in Saturday’s 5 p.m. FAA Tournament final. Greenwich Country Day topped King in tonight’s other league semifinal-round matchup.
“That’s what I’ve been waiting for, senior season, redemption, back for the FAA chip,” the 6-foot-10 Sigurdsson said. “I’m really excited for it. Our first step was revenge for us by winning in the semifinals and now it’s on to whoever we face next, in the championship.”
The Storm (5-4 in the FAA, 9-16 overall) received a game-high 24 points from senior point guard Ethan Crawford and 12 points from senior guard Thomas Durvasula. St. Luke’s won the FAA title in 2022 with a 47-39 victory over the Bruins.
“It was a neck-and-neck game,” the 6-foot-7 Triestman said. “It was a tight game, but we came out in the second half and went on a little run and we kind of controlled the tempo from there, which was really big.”
A dunk off a steal by senior guard Malik Samms gave the Bruins a 13-2 lead on the Storm with 11:32 remaining in the first half. Durvasula converted a 3-pointer and Crawford capped an 8-0 run with a basket, bringing the visitors to within 13-10 at the 9:05 mark of the opening half. Graves drove left and scored, upping the Bruins’ advantage to 17-11 with 7:37 to go in the first half, but with just under four minutes left, Crawford swished a 3-pointer, cutting Brunswick’s lead to 21-20.
Sigurdsson threw down a dunk, putting the home team on top, 27-23, at the 1:49 mark of the opening half. His foul shot gave Brunswick a 28-25 edge heading into halftime of this defensive-minded semifinal-round matchup.
“We got off to a big lead, but they don’t blink,” Juricek said of St. Luke’s. “They chipped away at it and before you know it, it’s a tight game again and we got into a little bit of foul trouble, so we had to have a couple of guys the bench. But the guys that came in did a good job of keeping that lead throughout the half and we were happy to go into halftime up three.”
Brunswick began the second half with an 6-0 spurt to go ahead, 34-25. Michalik keyed it with a 3-pointer from the left side. Sigurdsson’s dunk and basket off an offensive rebound, stretched the Bruins’ lead to 38-28.
Crawford and Durvasula each buried shots from 3-point range, slicing the Bruins’ lead to 47-41 with 3:57 remaining in the game, but the home team finished strong, behind key baskets from Triestman down the stretch.
“That was an emotional game,” Michalik said. “When they beat us last year in the championship, we were heartbroken. That was for last year’s seniors. We’re happy to get it done and we’re happy to move on.”
Both squads played solid man-to-man defense throughout the intense semifinal matchup.
“It was all about passion, it was about energy,” Michalik said. “We love to fight and out-grit teams. Grabbing offensive rebounds, crashing the boards – we did whatever we can.”
Samms added two points for the Bruins, while senior Mason Pratt scored three points for the Storm, who dropped a 68-53 decision to Brunswick in the regular season.
Junior 6-8 center Matty Augustine provided stellar defensive play off the bench for the Bruins. Sigurddson noted the Bruins’ depth.
“It gives us a chance to rest our legs,” he said. “Especially for me, I can go hard for seven minutes knowing I’ll get a few minutes rest to recharge my batteries. That was a great defensive game, defense leads to offense, so if we can get out in transition off steals, we’ll be successful.”
Triestman is enjoying his first postseason experience with Brunswick.
“It means a lot to me, especially because I was hurt last year and I didn’t get to play in the FAA playoffs at all,” Triestman said. “I missed half our season, so this is the first time I’ll get to play in the championship game in this gym. Playing at home and playing in front of my family and community is huge for me and I’m really happy about that.”
Indeed, Brunswick had extra motivation going into the game, knowing they missed out on winning the league title a season ago, courtesy of St. Luke’s.
“They beat us last year and all of the seniors, we all talked about it and we didn’t take that lightly,” Samms said. “We knew we were going to have to come out stronger, faster and bring our intensity. They’re very well coached and they’re probably the most experienced team in the playoff. So, we knew we had to play our game plan and not let them take us out of our game plan.”
Said Juricek: “The boys wanted to get that one, we have eight or nine guys who were on the team last season and they remember what it felt like to lose that game.”
Categories: Brunswick School, Winter sports
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