Andy Jacobs | Jan 30, 2013 |
If it seemed the Briarcliff Bears were on a mission Friday evening, maybe they were.
Playing their first game since getting overwhelmed in the second half of their showdown with Byram Hills last week, the Bears took out their anger at Horace Greeley High School.
“We had something to prove to ourselves,” admitted Bears coach Brendan Coxen, “after getting our you know whats handed to us in Manhattan College.”
Unfortunately for the host Quakers, they wound up being in the wrong place at the wrong time as Briarcliff rebounded from its stinging loss with a resounding 63-48 victory. Senior center Brian Daniels scored a game-high 26 points, including one emphatic dunk in each half, to pace the Bears, who built a lead as big as 29 points midway through the third quarter.
The Bears were never seriously challenged after going on a 20-2 blitz in the second quarter to blow open what had been a close contest until then. It was Daniels who capped off the huge run with a steal that led to his first dunk of the game, a left-handed hammer-down that he delivered while being fouled. By the time the teams walked off the floor at halftime, Briarcliff had built a 39-17 advantage.
“We’ve had leads and given it up,” said Coxen afterwards. “Tonight, we kind of took care of business and we went for a full four quarters. So, yeah, probably our best game.”
Daniels had nine of his points in the first quarter, but the period ended with Briarcliff leading by only a 15-9 margin. Baskets by Ryan Lubarsky and Harrison Brown early in the second quarter narrowed the Quakers’ deficit to just four points. Greeley would get no closer, though, as Jared Jones started Briarcliff’s big 20-2 run with a layup.
Spencer Seabrook followed with one free throw, then Ryan Huegel scored on a fastbreak layup. Alquan Phillip converted on a put-back and Jones, who finished with 12 points, soon grabbed a rebound and went coast to coast, driving down the middle for a scoop shot in the lane. The Quakers’ Jeremy Ciero made a short baseline jumper to end the Briarcliff streak of 10 straight points.
But the Bears were relentless and soon added four more baskets, one each from Jones, Seabrook, Huegel and Daniels. The bucket from Daniels was his tomahawk dunk and put an exclamation point on a dominating second quarter for Briarcliff. Daniels added four early baskets in the third quarter and when reserve guard Kevin Wolff connected on a 3-pointer midway through the period, the Bears’ lead had swelled to 52-23.
“Not our night,” said Greeley coach Dave Fernandes. “They beat us in every aspect that you wanna say. I’ll take my hat off to Brian Daniels. Great player, played really strong inside. Also, number 23 (Jones) played a really nice game, a really nice game. And the point guard for them (Huegel), who I didn’t think would handle the ball as well if we put a little pressure on him, didn’t make many mistakes, kept within himself. My hat’s off to them. They outplayed us.”
The Quakers did manage to go on their own 11-0 spurt late in the third quarter, sparked by five points from Matt Xie, but it was far too little and late. They began the fourth quarter trailing 54-36 and then the Bears wounded their pride even more. Daniels added his second vicious dunk early in the period and Jones soon followed with a slam of his own, taking a handoff from Daniels before driving the left baseline and sending the ball through two-handed to give Briarcliff a 60-38 lead.
“We have a set play for that,” said Coxen about Jones’ dazzling drive. “We weren’t looking to get a dunk obviously, but if we have it, yeah, we would take it and it was great. I think that’s Jared’s first dunk this year, which every kid loves to get. I’m glad he got it out of the way so now he can focus on the other things.”
Greeley’s Fernandes took some consolation in the fact his team was able to outscore the Bears in both the third and fourth quarters. “You try to talk to the kids about coming out and playing for pride now,” he said. “I was really proud of them, we actually won the second half. So it was good to see us not quit and stay with it.”
Coxen, meanwhile, could relish the most complete game he had seen his team, now 10-2 this year, play so far.
“I kind of feel it was, collectively, our best game of the season probably because we had guys step up off the bench,” he said. “We talked to the guys yesterday about needing people to step up. We haven’t been that deep. And we had guys come in and make plays. So I felt that this was our best game because it was a team involvement and the guys see that, they know that, and they feel great about it.”
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