Brookfield rolls past Grand Valley — again

HOWLAND – The ease in which the Brookfield Warriors took care of business against the Grand Valley Mustangs Monday night shouldn’t have been a surprise.

You could see the Warriors’ 77-44 win coming last Saturday when they rolled to a 29-point win over the Mustangs in the finale of the regular season. Unless Grand Valley coach Luke Strohm concocted a magical potion in the next 48 hours, a similar result was expected in a first-round game of the Division III district at Howland High School.

The Mustangs had a few early leads, but it was all Warriors once they took the lead at 8-7 on a jump shot by Ryan Mosora. Other than a few problems connecting on 3-point shots and a 13-of-22 performance at the foul line, Brookfield didn’t do many things wrong.

Warriors coach Bill Kovach might disagree with that on some points. He obviously has the task of keeping second-seeded Brookfield on target, which is winning the district championship.

“I thought we played well enough to win,” Kovach said. “It wasn’t what I expected, but I’m happy with the win.”

The Warriors (20-3) will play Berkshire, which won the last two district titles, in a second-round game Friday at 6 p.m. The Mustangs finished the season with a 4-19 record.

In earlier games, Newton Falls defeated Liberty, 57-48, while Campbell Memorial eliminated Garfield, 49-46. George Billiris had 15 points for Campbell. Matt Pratt led Garfield with 15 points.

Brookfield senior Jeremy Quinlan enjoyed another big scoring performance with a game-high 20 points. Quinlan also had a game-best nine rebounds.

The Warriors had a 34-19 rebounding advantage, including 11 on the offensive end. They moved the ball quickly and often found the open man under the basket.

“We ran the floor decently,” Kovach said. “I thought our passing could have been a little crisper. A lot of that has to do when you look at a score and a game is in a certain situation, maybe you take things for granted.”

The Warriors, who led 15-9 after the first period, opened the second quarter with seven unanswered points. They finished the session with a five-point run to lead at halftime, 36-18.

Collin Harkulich, who finished with 14 points, connected on four shots from the field in the third quarter as the Warriors’ lead stretched to 55-35. Kovach began going deeper on his bench in the fourth period without any letup in production.

Considering the ease in which the Warriors won last Saturday, it could have developed into a trap game. Although Brookfield had a few mental lapses, there weren’t nearly enough to make it a close game.

“We played seven games in 14 days,” Kovach said. “Now we get a little break. We don’t play until Friday, which is big for us. We’re a little tired. We’ll get a little rest the next few days to prepare for Berkshire.”

The Warriors were 31-of-58 from the field, which made up for the poor showing at the foul line.

The Mustangs, who were led in scoring by Josh Kovats’ 15 points, were 18-of-46 from the field. They made one of just five free-throw attempts.