St. Luke’s downs Brunswick to remain undefeated
GREENWICH — As the defending FAA Tournament champion, the St. Luke’s School boys basketball team knows it’s going to get the opposition’s best effort each game. Such was the case Thursday night, as a scrappy Brunswick School squad never let down against the undefeated Storm.
Yet the Storm showed exactly why their season so far, has been one of perfection.
Excelling in transition, visiting St. Luke’s raised its record to 9-0, recording an impressive 69-56 victory over the Bruins at Dann Gymnasium. Senior 6-foot-6 guard/forward Walter Whyte scored a game-high 25 points, while sophomore point guard Jonas Harper and junior guard Andrew Varoli added 12 points apiece for the victors.
“We have a big target on our back and if we keep winning games it’s going to get bigger and bigger, which is okay with us,” said Whyte, who had 13 second-half points. “We want to keep our winning resume — we’re trying to win another FAA championship and get better as a team.”
The Storm, who held a 34-20 halftime lead, is 5-0 in FAA play.
“One of our goals is to never rest on our laurels,” St. Luke’s coach Drew Gladstone said. “Everyone wants to beat us because we are an undefeated team and the defending champion. Everyone is going to give us their best effort, which is what we want. The competition is going to refine us.”
“What we take from this game is from a confidence standpoint, we showed the ability to play against good teams like this,” Bruins coach Robert Taylor said. “We’ve had a long lull, we haven’t played since before the Holiday (Dec. 16), so I was pleasantly surprised to see us come out and play so well.”
Nwana’s layup three minutes into the first half gave the Bruins their last lead at 6-4. From there, the Storm went on a pivotal 14-2 run to seize an 18-8 advantage. Harper’s jumper, Jackson Selvala’s 3-pointer from the top of the key and Selvala’s layup made it 13-6 midway through the opening half. After Brunswick senior Angus Binnie made a basket, senior 6-4 guard Joel Boyce swished a 3-pointer and Whyte scored on a dunk off a steal, extending the visitors’ advantage to 18-10.
Later in the half, Whyte’s layup in transition and Boyce’s dunk put the Bruins in a 27-12 hole with just over three minutes to go in the first half.
“Once we get going it’s pretty hard to stop us,” Whyte said. “We’re still moving forward and still progressing. We focused tonight on making the extra pass and looking for open teammates.”
Using effective backdoor cuts against St. Luke’s man-to-man defense, Brunswick chipped away at the Storm’s lead in the second half. Pierce scored off consecutive putbacks and Kelly converted a layup, bringing the home team to within 49-38 at the 9:30 mark of the second half.
“That’s our personality, we are a scrappy team,” Taylor said. “It’s not just one or two players. If we bring this type of scrappiness to every game we’ll have a winning season.”
Said Gladstone: “Brunswick played hard. They have come back from deficits early in the season, so they play hard and they play together. They are going to be a good team come playoff time.”
Varoli nailed a shot from beyond the arc, Whyte through down a dunk and Boyce converted a steal into a layup, putting the Storm on top, 57-38 with 6:54 to go. Boyce had 11 points in the winning effort.
“At certain times of the game, we looked really good,” Gladstone said. “Our transition game is big for us.”
Taylor knows his squad is taking steps toward improvement.
“We’re continuing to play better and better,” Taylor said. “I thought our defense was pretty strong today, but I would like for us to control the tempo more offensively. We have a tendency to rush things.”
ST. LUKE’S 69,
ST. LUKE’S 34 35 — 69
BRUNSWICK 20 36 — 56
ST. LUKE’S (69): Joel Boyce 5 0-0 11; Andrew Varoli 4 0-0 12; Jonas Harper 4 3-5 12; Cole Bryan 0 0-1 0; Jackson Selvala 2 0-0 5; Scott Vollmer 1 0-0 2; Walter Whyte 11 2-3 25; Matthew Lindsay 1 0-0 2. Totals: 28 5-8 69.
BRUNSWICK (56): Will Marvin 1 2-2 4; Cameron Kelly 3 1-2 8; Muna Nwana 3 2-3 9; Angus Binnie 2 4-4 6; Charlie Sealy 3 0-0 6; Khari Wilson 1 0-0 2; Jack Molloy 2 0-0 6; Graham Pierce 4 1-2 9; Shane Simmons 2 1-2 6. 21 10-13 56.
3-pointers: SL — Varoli 4, Boyce, Harper, Selvala, Whyte; B — Kelly, Molloy 2, Simmons.
Records: St. Luke’s 9-0; Brunswick 2-6.