Trailing by seven early in the third quarter of the Region 2-6A girls consolation game, Brunswick mounted a gritty to comeback and ultimately salvage the No. 3 seed in the state playoffs.
A renewed defensive effort and an increased focus on sharing the ball fueled a 10-2 run that erased the Pirates’ deficit and gave them their first lead of the contest with 3:14 until the fourth. The final 11 minutes of game time featured three ties and six lead changes before Brunswick finally held on to a 47-46 victory.
“As a unit, we’re just so inconsistent,” said BHS girls head coach Maria Mangram. “How we played the second half, if we would have played like that in the first half… We had to keep changing our defenses because we were kind of just complacent, kind of stuck in what we were doing.
“I had to get into their behinds. I told them, ‘Nobody is just going to lay down and give you anything. We’re in a fight for our lives right now.’”
Brunswick entered Friday’s game against Richmond Hill having won both regular-season meetings between the programs, a fact that Mangram believes may have contributed to her team feeling a bit complacent in the first half.
Playing with a purpose, the Wildcats staked themselves to an 11-5 advantage in the first quarter, leading by the same margin at the end of the period.
Richmond Hill went up eight on the first basket of the second quarter and appeared poised to open it up before Nyree Moody asserted herself into the action.
Likely playing in her final game at Brunswick Square Garden, the senior provided a spark by scoring six straight points for the Pirates, the first two on a nifty reverse layup off the pick and roll. On the next trip down the floor, Moody grabbed multiple offensive rebounds over a group of Wildcats under the basket before getting the putback to drop.
After another stop, Moody ran the floor in transition and pinned her defender underneath the hoop for an easy bucket. She finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and it could have been more if not for some missed opportunities near the rim.
“She was so excited about those 14 points, and I told her, ‘You should have had 30,’” Mangram said.
Moody’s spurt helped the Pirates hang around until they made their move in the third quarter, where it was Jaliyah Howard that acted as the spark. The junior point guard scored six of her seven points in a two-minute span that ended with a Howard eurostep layup in transition to give Brunswick a 31-30 lead with just over three minutes in the period.
“She’s coming around,” Mangram said of Howard. “I know this year isn’t done, but I’m anxious to see how she’ll be next year with a full year of varsity under her belt. She should know dos and don’ts.
“We’ve been harping on situation, knowing when to go, when not to go. As the point guard, do I push, do I not? But she played well.”
As the teams went back and forth over the final stretch, Brunswick turned to a hybrid defense as it looked to contain Richmond Hill senior Jaxson Douglas. Douglas had 11 points in the first half, but just two points in the final two quarters with Keya Daniels focused on denying her the ball.
“Keya is one of our better defenders, so we did a box-and-one to try keep her (accounted for),” Mangram said. “Once we did that, no one else really scored after we sort of slowed her down.”
The Pirates held the Wildcats to nine points in the fourth quarter to help them eke out a win and set them up in a similar spot as a year ago when they also dropped their region semifinal game before narrowly winning consolation game.
Last season, Brunswick went on to fall 59-55 on the road in the first round against Coffee County.