By Joe Ostrica
Even with key senior starter Bryan Lowrie out of the lineup due to a concussion suffered in the opening round, the Bay boys basketball team had little trouble beating Brookside in the Division II sectional championship game at Westlake Saturday. Limiting the Cardinals to just four points in the first 15:31 of the contest, the Rockets coasted to a 64-35 victory to set up tomorrow’s 7 p.m. district semifinals matchup with West Shore Conference rival Rocky River.
“I wasn’t too sure how our guys would react with Bryan out,” Bay head coach Jason Frolo said. “They really came together. They had a point to prove that they could win without Bryan, and they did it. They gave us a great defensive effort in the first half. I thought we contested every shot Brookside took in the first half, which really set the tone.
“I wasn’t really happy with the execution of our offense in the first half. We put that problem to rest quickly in the second half and pushed our lead up to 17 points.”
After leading 11-4 after the opening quarter, Bay held Brookside to just one field goal in the second quarter to take a 19-6 lead at halftime. The Rockets put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring Brookside 28-12 to give them a 29-point advantage (47-18) heading into the final quarter.
Bay junior Craig Linder knocked down three of his four 3-pointers in the third quarter. He led the Rockets with 14 points.
“We had a shoot around this morning to prep ourselves for the game,” Linder said. “We started off playing great defense, which sparked our offense. Whenever we do that, things usually work well for us. That was our main motivation tonight.”
Ben Chase finished with 11 points for Bay. Scott Rapps scored 10 points and had eight rebounds. Sam Strauss (eight points, seven rebounds), Ryan Voiers (seven points), Griffin Thompson (seven points), Chris Kazanas (five points) and Terry Carras (two points) rounded out the scoring.
“It took a while for this group to adjust to the varsity level,” Frolo said. “We have mostly juniors, but we are 9-5 in our last 14 games and have won five in a row now. This couldn’t have come at a better time. Our confidence is sky high right now.”