Spring Fling for Delbarton’s Brierley

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

Morriscountylacrosse

Since he is a novice lacrosse player, Delbarton’s Dean Brierley won’t take credit for anything he does on the field. However, others are willing to speak for him. In a short time the Delbarton boys basketball standout is surprisingly making an impact in a sport he’s just beginning to learn.

Basketball is the sport Brierley is known for. He was the offensive focal point for a successful Green Wave team. He was a member of the All-Morris County first team and he averaged 24 points and 10.5 rebounds as the team’s go-to guy. He had five 30-point games including a season-high 33 against Morristown High. When his season was ended with a state tournament loss to St. Peter’s Prep, the 6-foot-3 athlete decided to give lacrosse a try.

“I had never played before,’’ Brierley said. “It’s been awesome. I get to play with my friends every day of the week. It was a great decision and I don’t regret anything. That’s what it’s all about. When our defensive middies go, I just sub on and try to play a little defense.’’

Brierley (23) has traded in his basketball for a lacrosse stick for a few months and is making an impact for the Green Wave.

It seems a tall order to be able to play lacrosse for Delbarton with little or no experience. The Green Wave is a perennial powerhouse and has won numerous state championships over the last two decades. Although his Delbarton teammates have years and years of experience on the lacrosse field, defensive midfield is a position that athletes with only limited time can come in and make a contribution. His job is to maintain good defensive position and throw good checks against an opponent. If he can grab a loose ball, he can always get it to a more stick savvy teammate any way possible to get the job done.

It didn’t take long for Brierley to win over his teammates. He has good size, great speed and tremendous athleticism. The sport of basketball often mirrors lacrosse with its strategies, picks, screens and zone defenses. The disciplined and focused attitude as well as good peripheral vision and anticipation skills that he uses on the basketball court translate well to the lacrosse field.

“He gives us 100 percent every day,’’ senior midfielder Anthony Heaton said. “He’s just an amazing athlete and a really good player. He’s also the hardest kid to go against in practice. I would rather go against (defensemen Jack Breit) or (Spencer Huston) than Brierley any day. He has the best feet on the team by far.

“Lacrosse is literally basketball with sticks so he knows how to play the zones. He will be right in the perfect spot every time. (Assistant Coach John Kovalcik) will tell Dean to shut off a guy for a couple of minutes and he’ll say – fine.’’

Brierley waits with his Delbarton teammates for a chance to get on the field in an early game against Madison.

Brierley made a play to set up the winning goal in last week’s Morris County Tournament final. He checked the stick out of a Mountain Lakes players hand, scooped the loose ball up from behind the Delbarton cage and took off. He ran it past midfield into Delbarton’s offensive third. From there he got the ball to Jack Malloy who found Breit, an offensive-minded defenseman, who made it a 6-4 game by putting in the eventual winning goal.

“I saw the open field and ran it down,’’ Brierley said. “I made a pretty bad pass to Jack Malloy but he was able to catch it and get it to Breit and Breit hit the goal. I just ran to open space.’’

Brierley acted as if it was the least he could do, but his teammates couldn’t have been more pleased for him.

“He does the little things,’’ said John Shaffer, who was named tournament MVP. “He doesn’t always get recognition but he made a huge play. He won’t tell you he made a great play but for him to do that was tremendous for us.

“I’m just so proud of him. He’s one of the hardest workers out there. He just dedicates a lot of time and he finally came through.’’

The player wearing #37 isn’t expected to score a goal any time soon, but don’t be surprised if his presence is felt during a state tournament game when Delbarton needs a defensive stop is needed at a critical time.

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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