By Pat Turner
Brennan has encountered a few bumps on the road in the early part of the boys’ basketball season.
While playing a stout non-district schedule, the Bears have been slammed with injuries. It’s made Brennan’s depth thinner, but the Bears are finding ways to brave through the ordeal. The Bears (10-5, 2-0) held their own during the preparation for league play and started District 28-6A on a winning note by topping victories over Taft (87-58) and Brandeis (79-61).
Because of the recent surge, Brennan shares the early lead with Warren (12-2, 2-0) and O’Connor (11-5, 2-0).
“We’re still working to get healthy,” Brennan coach Koty Cowgill said. “We haven’t played a game at full strength. We’re gaining experience for a lot of the kids. That’s helped us as a team. We’ve done good things. We’re still looking forward to having all our players.”
Balanced shooting was present in both victories. In the matchup with Taft, Brennan erupted for a 47-25 halftime lead and kept pressing forward.
Taft received 18-point performances from Jon Marc Flores-Diaz and Nate Marotta, but Brennan had more fire power with Shaydon Campbell popping in 24 points and Jaden Moore hitting 20. Adding to the output were Kyle Castille (15 points) and Isaiah Ayekumi (11 points).
The balancing act continued against Brandeis with Jacari Sanders (19 points), Jordan Mainor (13 points), Moore (11 points), Isaiah Ayekumi (10 points) and Castille (10 points) leading the scoring.
Once again, the Bears relied on a fast start by zipping to a 21-7 lead into the first quarter.
Brennan increased the margin to 42-24 and maintained the upper hand in the second half, despite a 21-point output from Brandeis’ Jordan Wood.
“We’re all trying to contribute,” Campbell said. “We’re missing some players, but everyone has taken on a responsibility to help.”
Brandeis began its week with a 57-44 win over Clark as Kyle Schaefer scored 18 points and Wood added eight points with 11 rebounds.
Warren and O’Connor also looked sharp this past week.
The Warriors, winners of the NISD-Northeast Tournament, registered a 60-50 win over Holmes before carving out a 55-54 thriller over Stevens (10-5, 1-1).
Warren was struggling with a 30-22 halftime deficit after Jerene Batts (18 points) and Khouri Perkins (16 points) ignited the Falcons.
Backed by the combination of Isaac Gamboa, who poured in 24 points, and Kino Rodriguez-Thompson, the Warriors tied the score in the third period at 44-all, before squeezing out the victory in the final quarter.
Stevens was also involved in a one-point bout with Marshall. Despite Sayvon Frye chunking in 37 points for Marshall and facing a 37-33 deficit going into the fourth quarter, the Falcons rallied behind the shooting of Perkins (17 points), Carlton Lingard (16 points) and Batts (12 points).
O’Connor had plenty of excitement during its victories
The Panthers were down 34-32 to Jay at the half but burst through in the third period with a 22-2 run to soar to a 69-52 win. Brendan Wenzel provided much of the highlights with 30 points.
Wenzel followed with 19 points in a 71-55 victory over Taft. Adam Benhayoune, who scored 11 against Jay, pumped in 15.
Marshall (8-7, 1-1) got into the win column with a 61-58 win over Clark with Frye turning in another quality performance with 35 points.
Clark was paced by Luke Gibson’s 21 points.