Experienced and deep at each position, the Brunswick School basketball team believes it can be a squad to watch out for in the FAA and NEPSAC, while continuing to climb the ladder of success.
“I feel like we are a contender this year for one of the top spots in the FAA Tournament,” Bruins coach Steve Juricek said. “Every single FAA team is strong this year, it’s like a toss-up — it’s anybody’s game.”
The Bruins, who advanced to the FAA Tournament semifinals last winter, have already played four games this season. They have posted victories against Hackley and FAA foe King, while losing to Taft School and Millbrook School for a 2-2 early-season record.
“The two games we lost, we were in those games until the final two minutes,” said Juricek, whose squad finished 6-15 last season. “This year, our energy is better on a day-to-day basis, along with our ability to share the ball on offense. This year, almost every possession, we’re making five or six passes. We see guys on the other side of the court for open shots.”
Seniors Cedric LaFleur and Kevonne Wilder and junior Tristan Joseph are the Bruins’ captains. The trio help spark the Bruins’ backcourt.
“Cedric, a point guard, is a vocal leader and defensive stopper,” Juricek said. “Tristan Joseph is another defensive stopper, who is crafty with the ball in terms of attacking the rim. He can shoot the 3-ball as well. Kevonne is also a defensive stopper and is probably the best on-ball defender on the team. Whoever the best offensive player on the other team is, he can neutralize them. Last year, he held some of the best scorers in the league to single digit games.”
Brunswick visits FAA rival Rye Country Day School Wednesday at 4 p.m., then competes in the Phillips Exeter Winter Classic Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
AT THE HELM: Juricek is entering his third season as Brunswick’s coach. The Bruins recorded a 52-50 win over Hopkins School in the quarterfinal-round of the FAA Tournament, then dropped a 72-63 loss to St. Luke’s School in the semifinals. Returning as an assistant coach is Zachary Dobbs.
WHO’S GONE?: Will Prout, Charlie Wall, Charlie Marvin, Ryan Mulshine and Ben Burns were among the graduates from last season’s squad. Chishom Akpara, one of the team’s leading scorers last season as a freshman, transferred to Vermont Academy.
GUARDS: LeFleur, Joseph and Wilder return to a backcourt, which possesses depth. Joseph scored a team-high 17 points in the squad’s 64-60 victory against Hackley and had 12 points in a 59-46 triumph over King.
Junior Dan Arnold, a transfer from Greenwich High School, also starts in the backcourt. Wilder flourished on Brunswick’s football team as a defensive back/running back in the fall.
“He is a very good ball-handler and is great in the open floor,” Juricek said of Arnold. “He is willing to make the extra pass.”
Senior Sam Mazzullo returns to the backcourt. His layup with 1:05 remaining lifted the Bruins to a 52-50 win over Hopkins in the FAA quarterfinals last season.
Logan Galletta, a freshman, begins his first season for Brunswick, along with junior James Seeley.
FORWARDS: senior Khari Wilson, who stands 6-foot-7, averaged a team-best 19 points per game last season and is known as one of the premier shooters in the FAA. He will play basketball next season at Union College. Wilson scored a team-high 20 points in Brunswick’s 61-51 loss to Taft last week.
“He is very smooth and agile and has long arms,” Juricek said of Wilson. “He has all the tools to play at the next level. We are relying upon him to spark us offensively. He’s also good at creating scoring opportunities for others.”
Junior Colin Mulshine (6-4) helps bolster the frontcourt. Mulshine, who totaled 11 points against King and scored 16 points in the Bruins’ FAA semifinal game against St. Luke’s a season ago, also stars on Brunswick’s football and lacrosse teams.
“He is a great passer and another defensive stopper,” Juricek said. “He has a high basketball IQ.”
Sophomore Henry Caponiti (6-2) aids the Bruins in the low post.
“Henry rebounds the ball well, is a tremendous passer and is very strong,” Juricek said. “He plays way bigger than 6-2. He’s a total blue collar guy.”
Jack Michalik (6-4) has helped the Bruins on the offensive and defensive backboards. He chipped in eight points in the team’s triumph against Hackley.
Junior Jack Russell (6-4) is a 3-point shooting threat at forward.
CENTER: freshman Jon Sigurdsson brings size (6-10) and shot blocking ability to the position.
“He is not only a great shot blocker, he deters guys from shooting in the first place,” Juricek said. “He is developing nicely.”
STRENGTHS: “Every kid can shoot and share the ball,” Juricek said. “There is a commitment to playing defense from everyone. We are on track to have a nice record this year.”