On Wednesday afternoon, the boys’ basketball team earned a tough non-league victory over CHSAA’s Kellenberg, thanks to some big plays in the final moments.
The Bears grabbed an early 5-0 lead behind a drive and layup from Charlie Onana Awana and a 3-pointer by Federico Chiappa, but the Firebirds answered back with a pair of threes to take a 6-5 lead. Another Onana Awana layup and a Kellenberg jumper saw the lead change hands twice more before Niks Zemitis drilled a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give The Brook a 10-8 advantage after one quarter.
Nate Small began the second frame with a steal and layup, and Onana Awana followed with a layup of his own and a 3-pointer to push the lead to 17-8. After Kellenberg connected on another 3-pointer, Chiappa dropped in a floater and Andreas Simoni registered a putback to push the margin to 22-13. After a Simoni free throw, Chiappa scored an and-1 off of a pretty spin move in the lane to give The Brook a 25-13 margin. A Small drive and score extended an 8-0 run and gave the Bears a 27-13 advantage at the break.
Chiappa opened the second half with a steal and layup to cap a 10-0 run and build a 16-point lead, but just when it seemed like the Bears would run away with it, the Firebirds kept pace. The visitors chipped back to within 20-31 before Onana Awana soared for a layup. Two more quick buckets from Kellenberg got their deficit under 10 when Onana Awana again answered with a drive and full-extension lay-in. Chiappa followed with a steal that fed Onana Awana for a thunderous dunk that brought the Swanson faithful to their feet, but Kellenberg answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to pull back within eight. Chiappa counterpunched with another and-1 layup to push the lead back to 41-30 entering the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, Kellenberg nearly erased their deficit in a blink with an 11-2 run on three layups, a 3-pointer, and a pair of free throws after ratcheting up the defensive pressure. With the Bears now clinging to a 43-41 edge, Osazee Alapa hit a free throw and came up with a huge putback with 1:01 remaining to extend the Bear lead to 46-41. The Firebirds would get no closer as Onana Awana iced the game with four straight free throws to cap the 50-43 win.
Onana Awana led all scorers with 17 points, but it was the Blue & White defense that paved the way to victory, best illustrated by Small’s full extension dive for a loose ball midway through the fourth quarter. The Bears were tenacious with their backs to the basket and simply would not be denied.