It didn’t come easily but Cardinal on Tuesday picked up its first postseason victory since 2014.
The Huskies overcame two 10-point runs by visiting Brookfield to win a Division III sectional semifinal, 69-68.
“We just didn’t come out ready to play at the start of the game and in the third quarter,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “I just don’t think we were really focused but we got back into it.”
Brookfield used one of those 10-point runs to build a 24-17 first quarter lead. The Huskies responded by outscoring the Warriors in the second, 21-7, to take a 38-31 lead into halftime.
Cardinal got off to a slow start in the third as the Warriors used their second 10-0 run to pull ahead of the Huskies, 41-38.
“That gave them a little shot in the arm but we turned it around and got back into it,” Cummins said. “We were down by three going into the fourth quarter but I wasn’t really worried.”
Robbie Bruncak and Robbie Mulh did a lot to ease any concerns Cummins may have had.
Bruncak, who drained six 3-pointers in the game to tie the school record for the fourth time in his career, and Mulh both scored 18 points to lead the Huskies. Mulh also pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds in the contest.
“We did some things and figured it out,” Cummins said. “They ran a lot of 1-3-1 zone against us and we kind of picked that apart. We did a pretty good job of taking care of the ball and Robbie Bruncak had six 3s because they were running the zone. He’s the zone buster. Robbie Mulh kind of dominated at times.”
Mulh also blocked a pair of shots in the game.
“It is great that we got a postseason win,” Mulh said. “It is just awesome to have that feeling going into the next game and it being in my senior year just feels great. On offense, I was just pushing the boards and getting rebounds then when I got the ball I just put in back up I was just having a good game in the paint.”
Bruncak’s sixth 3-pointer gave the Huskies a 65-64 lead with 2:43 left to play. Mulh then hit a 3 to break a 64-64 tie with 2:08 remaining and it was Matt Carney that delivered the game-winning basket with 31 seconds left.
“Matt Carney did a nice job getting inside,” Cummins said. “We passed him the ball and he made a nice play to score a bucket.”
The Warriors had three chances in the closing seconds to end Cardinal’s season.
Mulh blocked the first shot attempt and Parker Kosh hustled over to tie up the ball after a missed layup. Carney then contested a Brookfield 3-point attempt with 1.7 seconds left in the game.
“They had a jump ball under their own basket and we were able to defend it,” Cummins said. “We made them shoot an airball and we got the rebound.”
The Huskies, who improved to 12-11 on the year, advanced to the sectional championship game at No. 4 seed Garrettsville Garfield.
Cardinal defeated the G-Men, 52-45, back on Dec. 19. The rematch, with a much bigger prize at stake, will be played at Garfield.
“We need to do a better job of playing on the road,” Cummins said. “This is going to be a big test for us late in the year and playing at their place. It’s always a tough place to play. They get a lot of fans and a lot of support. Last year at their place, we had two guys that didn’t play and they beat us by 40 at their place because we had two starters out. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
Carney also finished in double figures for the Huskies as he scored 14. Luke Timas and Hayden Cummins contributed to the win with nine and eight points, respectively.