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Daniels Powers Briarcliff Over Greeley

Varsity vs Briarcliff HS on 2/3/2012 7:00:00 PM
Posted Tuesday, February 07, 2012 by MSGVarsity.com

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. — In the minutes leading up to Briarcliff's matchup with Horace Greeley on Friday night, Bears coach Brendan Coxen brought his team into the huddle. Briarcliff knew what they were up against, facing a strong Section 1 Class AA school late in the season at a time when every game has a bit more meaning. But Coxen knew the importance of the game beyond playoff seedings.

"I said to the guys, 'This is probably the best team we've seen since we beat (defending Class A champions) Byram Hills earlier in the year,'" Coxen said. "We took Byram as a challenge going in and we wanted to approach this game the same way. They were a good team so we knew we needed to stretch our ability, focus on the little things and actually win this game. The guys really committed and played their best basketball game yet."

It doesn't hurt when you have a player like Brian Daniels, either. Daniels powered the Bears (11-5) to a 65-60 win over the Quakers (8-9), pouring in 14 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter.

"Brian Daniels is a lot of good things, but the one thing he is first is a clutch performer," Coxen said. “He struggled at the line at times but he hit the ones that mattered. He's our focus here. He's starting to commit to working a little harder down low and he's reaping the benefits."

Daniels struggled at the line early in the fourth quarter, allowing Greeley to overcome a nine-point deficit to pull within one with two minutes left. But the junior big man redeemed himself, knocking down a pair of late-game free throws to seal the win.

"I had to forget about the last ones," Daniels said with a look of relief on his face. "I had struggled from the line today, but I had to forget about the last ones and do what I can."

Daniels was equally impressive on the defensive side of the ball, grabbing 12 rebounds (six in the fourth quarter), blocking four shots and keeping Greeley star Harrison Brown from taking over down the stretch.

While Daniels took care of business for the Bears, Quakers guard Connor Domershick left the fans in awe with one of the hottest shooting performances on the season. Domershick put up an impressive 27 points and was 8 of 9 from behind the 3-point line before misfiring last-second heave at the end of regulation.

Greeley coach Dave Fernandez said Domershick kept the Quakers in the game and was a crucial part of the comeback.

"He's a player," Fernandez said. "He comes to play and when he's hot, he's hot. But we missed 11 free throws in the second half and we're a pretty good free-throw shooting team. That's the key to the game."

Domershick scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a spectacular 3-pointer off a Josh Rosen steal to trim Briarcliff's lead to two points with 53 seconds remaining.

"It was unbelievable," Coxen said. "We tried to not help off of (Domershick) and he still hit them. It was great to see. You don't want to see it in the waning minutes when you're trying to win the game, but it was very impressive."

Briarcliff senior forward Paul Henshaw was a nice compliment to Daniels, making hustle play after hustle play. Henshaw finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds and also made a pair of clutch free throws down the stretch.

"It was all about the defense today," Henshaw said. "We worked on defense all week in practice getting ready for this game. It was a big game for us. This was our last real challenge of the season."

Ryan Huegel added 10 points and seven assists for the Bears, while Tyriek Johnson added nine points and six rebounds.

Brown finished with 12 points and eight rebounds for Greeley, while Justin Ciero added 10 points.

Briarcliff will try to use the momentum from this game to make a run in the upcoming sectional playoffs. The Bears will not have a top four seed but believe that they can play with anyone.

"In sectionals, we want to go to the County Center," Daniels said. "I fell short my first two years and we want to go to the County Center. I want to help the seniors get to the County Center."

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