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Open Mike Column: Coach Brueckl finds bright spot in facing brother, Clark

Brothers Tim Brueckl (pictured above top) and Clark Brueckl faced off in a season finale between Hamburg and Lake Shore last week. (Photos by Ron Larson)

Leaving Lake Shore’s gymnasium with a win on Thursday (Feb. 14) night was somewhat bittersweet for Hamburg head coach Tim Brueckl.

While he was glad to see his team end the regular season and enter the playoffs on a positive note, he was also disappointed that it had to come at the expense of his younger brother, Clark, who was celebrating Senior Night with his Lake Shore teammates.

Using a defense that keyed on Clark for most of the night, the Bulldogs were able to limit the dynamite shooting guard wearing Eagles’ green to 12 points and 10 field goal attempts in a 55-49 Hamburg win.

Coach Brueckl realized that his brother would be the player his team would need to stop. Just recently, Lake Shore’s leading scorer dropped 34 points and a school-record nine three-pointers on Pioneer in a big road win.

Tim didn’t take joy in being able to frustrate his brother, but was satisfied by the fact that Hamburg had to give so much attention to Clark. He convinced his younger brother afterward that Clark should be proud as well to have been the focus of the defense.

“It was great for me to be able to be there for his Senior Night, but I also know that’s not how he wanted it to go,” said Hamburg’s fifth-year coach. “I’m impressed by the work he’s put in to his game and I couldn’t be prouder of him. It shows how far he has come that we had to gameplan around him.”

But it just wouldn’t be a relationship between two brothers if there wasn’t a little sibling rivalry and some razzing. This rivalry just happens to pit two rival schools, as well. “He’d look better in the purple and white,” Tim joked.

Pride abounds at Hilbert

From athletics directors and college representatives to players, coaches and team supporters, those associated with Hilbert athletics were beaming with pride after Saturday (Feb. 16) afternoon’s men’s basketball game at the Hafner Recreation Center.

You could see it in the face of everyone that stayed afterward to celebrate and take in Hilbert’s overtime win over LaRoche, which garnered the program’s first Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference regular season title. It was hard to miss the emotion and excitement in speaking to a player like senior Isaac Bushey after the game. It’s also nice to see a student-athlete reach a sense of vindication after he’s felt counted out or cast off.

Hilbert seems to have a number of players who feel the same way, but instead of giving in, they banded together, found a home at Hilbert and accomplished something big for a college athletics program that could use a lift. The AMCC has been an excellent affiliation for Hilbert but it hasn’t always been kind to the Hamburg-based college on the scoreboard and in the standings since it joined in 2004-05.

“We’ve got a tough, scrappy group,” Bushey said. “They’re at Hilbert for a reason. Not a ton of teams wanted us. It speaks to how we play — our style and attitude.”

The Hawks will be trying to take it a step further and take advantage of the home court they earned, starting with a semifinal game against Medaille Friday at 6 p.m. If they advance, the championship will be 3 p.m. the next day.

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