Brunswick High came out of the locker room with energy and purpose to start the third quarter of the Region 2-6A boys consolation game and set the tone for a second half that saw it run away from Effingham County en route to a 61-54 victory Friday at The Glass Palace.
It was the kind of effort that Pirates head coach Chris Turner wants to see from his team to start games in the state playoffs.
“They came out and they played with energy, with passion, they played hard, they scrapped, got some charges, we were able to make shots,” Turner said. “But it all started with the effort that they’re putting forward to start a quarter, or a game, or a third quarter. You have to have that to win big games.
“At this time of the year, especially moving forward with us having to go play, in Atlanta, a No. 2, if you don’t come out fired up, you’re probably not going to win.”
Brunswick outscored Effingham 19-12 in the third quarter to turn a two-point halftime lead into a nine-point advantage heading to the fourth quarter, and at one point in the period, the lead swelled to as much as 16.
But the energy the Pirates used to take over in the second half was absent to open the game, a troubling trend for Brunswick that looked listless in a 69-48 loss to Glynn Academy on Wednesday, despite entering the region tournament as the top seed.
Effingham scored the first five points of the game, eliciting a timeout from Brunswick, during which Turner ripped into his team for it’s lack of fire. The speech seemingly did the trick as the Pirates finished the first quarter on a 12-4 run to carry a three-point lead into the second quarter.
“That’s what happen against Glynn, we were just simply not ready to play,” Turner said. “We got down, dug ourselves a hole; we did the same thing tonight. Had to call a timeout and really get ugly with those kids.
“I want them to have the same passion I have before a game, so I’ve been disappointed the last two nights with the way we’ve come out to start a game. We have to play 32 minutes. We have to scrap, and fight, and claw for everything we get right now. That’s the mentality I want my players to have. When they come out sluggish and sort of nonchalant, that’s not going to get it done. That’s going to get you sent home quick.”
However, a game of runs in the first half saw the Rebels answer right back with a 5-0 run to open the second quarter and recapture the lead, eventually going up by as many as seven before the Pirates made another push.
Brunswick tied the game at 25-25 with a quick 7-0 spurt, and just before halftime, momentum swung in the Pirates’ favor when the Rebels blew a dunk with seconds remaining. Kamari Towns grabbed the rebound, dribbled it up the court and launched a 3-pointer at the buzzer that fell to give his team a 30-28 lead.
Towns finished with 10 points, second on the team to Xavier Bean, who exploded in the third quarter en route to a game-high 27 points.
Bean scored nine straight points for the Pirates during one stretch in the third, and he scored 12 of the team’s 19 in the period, splashing a trio of 3s in the process.
“I’m happy for him,” Turner said. “Bean loves this game. He’s a fierce competitor, and obviously he can make shots. Tonight he was able to make shots. He always has to guard one of their toughest guards.
“Bean is a gamer. We’re proud of what he’s been able to do. Tonight was a big boost for him to hit those big shots. It sort of opened up the game for us.”
Brunswick built a double-digit lead on Bean’s hot shooting, and never trailed the rest of the way. Effingham cut the deficit to five points late, but it never had the opportunity to attempt a game-tying shot.
Jaden Dunham added nine points, nine rebounds, four blocks, and two assists for Brunswick, which travel to play the Region 4-6A Tournament runner-up in the first round of the state playoffs next week.