The Meadville boys' basketball team kept its tournament dreams alive on Thursday night, defeating a staunch and athletic Brunswick team, 47-36. With the victory, top-seeded Meadville punches a ticket to its 11th-consecutive Northwestern Invitational Tournament championship appearance against Linn County on Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
In the first half, the Eagles and Wildcats spent most of the 16 minutes feeling one another out, as Brunswick center Tyreese Winn -- listed in the program as 6'5", but more realistically about three inches taller than that -- consistently hindered the favorite from getting the ball on the low block. Winn also led all scorers with 16 points.
"Man, that kid is a load," Meadville coach Drew Nier said. "He's so athletic in there, and he alters so much. My biggest fear for these guys was what we were going to do when we didn't make a bunch of threes. We don't have that guy who's great at getting to the basket yet. Defensively, we were locked in for a kid who's that athletic."
At the half, the two teams were separated by six points, with Meadville leading 18-12.
Midway through the third quarter, the Wildcats cut the lead to a singular bucket at 25-23 before Meadville's sharpshooters reared their heads. On back-to-back possessions, Dillon Seckington and Dominik Gannan knocked down shots from beyond the arc to extend the Eagles' lead to 33-24. Winn converted a layup as time expired for the final score of the quarter, and Meadville entered the fourth with a 33-26 advantage.
Brunswick cut it to within six points around the two minute mark in the fourth, but Meadville was contented to dribble out the clock, play possession basketball, and knock down its free-throws down the stretch.
"I was a little unhappy with our inability to get out and run in transition with the tempo we'd like to have," Nier said. "That was because we couldn't rebound, and their guards were kind of pressuring us and we weren't making great outlet passes. We didn't really get that corrected all night long."
Gannan led the way for the Eagles with 13 points, and Seckington added 12. Jordan Schmitz finished with nine, and Parker Burton with six.
"We knew what we had to do," Gannan said. "We worked at the end and made some free throws. We're ready (for Saturday's game), we just need to shoot better."