Brewster, UConn-bound Kisunas hold off St. Thomas More
Montville — St. Thomas More coach Jere Quinn loved his team's effort against prep school basketball powerhouse Brewster Academy on Sunday afternoon.
He also loved the Chancellors' reaction to a tough 80-76 loss.
"For the first time, they were mad that they lost, which is certainly a sign of growth," Quinn said. "They recognized that they could have won that game."
Ultimately, Brewster's superior talent and depth proved to be too much for St. Thomas More (3-5).
Seven players on Brewster's roster have committed to Division I programs, including skilled 6-foot-10, 245-pound center Lukas Kisunas who's headed to UConn next season. Kisunas, a native of Lithuania, finished with 13 points while Wake Forest-bound Isaiah Mucius had a team-best 18 and future Oregon Duck Miles Norris added 17.
Brewster has grown accustomed to getting every team's best effort, and Sunday's entertaining game was no different.
St. Thomas More led by as many as eight in the second half before letting the lead slip away.
"We're basically the Super Bowl for every team," Kisunas said. "That's good because we're going to get the best shot of every team so we're going to have to bring our best in order to win. The league is great competition. ... With a reputation like we have, we try to lose as few games as possible."
Buddy Boeheim, who'll play for his father at Syracuse, hit a short pull-up jumper to push Brewster in front for good, 68-67, with four and a half minutes left and sparked an 8-2 run.
The Chancellors, who are missing three players due to injuries, closed to within two twice, but couldn't complete the comeback. Adrien Nunez, who signed with Michigan, had a team-high 24 points and DJ Mitchell added 21 for the hosts.
"We made a couple of mental mistakes in the last seven or eight minutes and we missed a few foul shots," Quinn said. "We had chances to extend the lead. I can't complain about the effort. ... We'll get better. Everybody is finding their role."
Brewster, which went undefeated last season while winning the national title, is a nightmarish matchup for any team.
St. Thomas More lacked the size and strength to battle Kisunas in the low post. Down the stretch on Sunday, Kisunas stormed the lane to grab an offensive rebound and converted the layup to extend the lead to three and also blocked a potential game-tying shot with just under 30 seconds remaining.
"Lukas is doing great," Brewster coach Jason Smith said. "You can put him down for 12 (points) and eight (rebounds) every night. ... He does pass the ball extremely well. That's what UConn likes about him, his ability to pass the ball out of the post.
"... We have to do a better job of throwing the ball to him in the post because he can really score with his back to the basket, which is becoming instinct in our game."
There's nothing flashy about the big man's game.
Kisunas embraces doing all the little things — setting screens, rebounding, defending the rim — and only takes an occasional shot, usually within five feet of the basket. He also has great footwork, which allows him to hedge ball screens well, according to Smith.
"I enjoy doing the dirty work...," Kisunas said. "I take pride in that. Not a lot of people do that, but I enjoy it."
While comfortable making moves in the low post, Kisunas realizes he needs to expand his offensive game. He's working on his jump shot.
"It's going to make me that much harder to guard," Kisunas said.
Kisunas is keeping up with the Huskies, watching games when he can, and stays in contact with the UConn coaching staff.
But his main focus is doing whatever he can to help Brewster Academy have another successful season.
"I'm just trying to get better every day," Kisunas said.
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