by A.C. Hall
By the time the Brewer Bears took the court in the first round of the playoffs it had been eight days since their last game. In the post season for the third year in a row, Brewer was looking to finally make it out of the first round and push towards a state title.
First up for the Bears was the Grapevine Mustangs. Postponed a day due to winter weather, these two teams faced off on Wednesday. Brewer’s offense got off to a slow start as they tried to find a way to deal with the zone defense of the Mustangs. The only Brewer shooter to show signs of heating up in the quarter was Garrick Reynolds who hit a 3 pointer to give the team their first lead of the night.
Up by 1 heading into the second quarter, the Bears went on a 7 – 0 scoring run to pull further ahead. During the quarter their lead grew to as much as 10, but at halftime they were only up by 5 with a 25 – 20 lead.
The third quarter saw the Brewer lead slowly but surely vanish as Grapevine fought their way back into the contest. Grapevine went on a 7 – 2 scoring run to tie the game up at 27. After a shaky few minutes to open the quarter, the Bears finally rallied and were able to regain a 5 point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After keeping their composure in the third, Brewer went into the final quarter ready to win. They slowly grew their lead, keeping the Mustangs from making any significant gains. Reynolds continued to contribute big for the Bears as they established an 8 point lead. Brewer held the lead for the entire quarter, winning 45 – 39 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Originally scheduled for Friday, the second round matchup against the Crowley Eagles was postponed twice due to the winter weather, finally taking place on Monday evening. These teams were viewed as evenly matched with a win possible for either squad. But it would be Crowley who got off to the better start as once again the Brewer offense couldn’t get anything going early on. Garrick Reynolds once again shined as one of the few Brewer shooters who seemed to be on his game, joined this time by Richard Juarez. Together the two of them helped the Bears pull even near the end of the quarter at 11 – 11. However, with just one minute left, Crowley went on a 4 – 0 run and took a 15 – 11 lead into the second quarter.
This run would turn out to be a sign of things to come, as quarter after quarter Crowley would go on scoring runs that kept them in firm control of the game. With key Brewer players Ke’Oddrick Polk and Malcolm Davis in early foul trouble, Brewer was left scrambling early on to keep the game from getting away from them.
As the second quarter ticked by, the Bears found themselves trailing by 9 points. Reynolds hit back to back three pointers for the Bears to tighten up the score, but that just sparked another massive Crowley run. This time they went on a 12 – 2 run to open up a brutal 15 point lead that the Bears would never come back from. At halftime the score was Brewer 23, Crowley 36. Crowley would continue their dominance throughout the third quarter, maintaining a double digit lead. The Bears started to show signs of life late in the third, but a 7 – 0 Crowley scoring run put an end to that quickly. Crowley shooters were getting to the basket far too often and with only Reynolds and Juarez heating up for the Bears it was hard for Brewer to answer with points of their own. Brewer also had far too many missed free throws, missing some critical opportunities to gain ground from the foul line.
The final quarter began with Brewer down by 15 and their playoff run facing a second round end. Then a miraculous thing started to happen. After scoring almost at will all night, the Crowley offense finally shut down. With the Bears defense stepping up, their offense went about chipping away at the sizable lead. Juarez hit two three pointers as the Bears went on an improbable 11 – 1 run to open up the quarter. With just a little over three minutes remaining in the game, Brewer was trailing by just 5 points.
Unfortunately, that’s where the rally stalled. Crowley was able to start hitting shots again, and while the Bears played fantastic basketball in the fourth there just wasn’t enough time to come all the way back. With the final few minutes ticking away the Brewer team scratched and clawed, but couldn’t find a way to overcome the Crowley lead. The final score was Brewer 60, Crowley 67.
The 2015 playoff run didn’t last as long as the Bears had hoped it would, but this is a team that has a lot to be proud of. The majority of the team is graduating after this year and they leave behind a great legacy of Brewer basketball. Congratulations to the Brewer Bears and Coach Jason Porostovsky and his coaching staff on the season and the second round playoff run.