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Brother, that Bruso can play

Steve Yingling

They only went one-on-one once last summer, but Greg Bruso didn’t even bother asking for a rematch.

“He whooped on me pretty good,” said Greg, whose older brother, Brian, is a 6-foot, 7-inch senior center for the University of San Diego.

Obviously, with a six-inch height advantage, Brian should school his younger brother, who is a junior at South Tahoe High.

“He needs to grow a little bit more before he can hang inside with me,” joked Brian.

That Greg is willing to challenge the West Coast Conference first-teamer on the court speaks how far his game has come.

“He’s just as tough as Brian was and that’s quite a tribute because Brian is probably the toughest kid who has ever played for me,” said Viking coach Tom Orlich. “They are both very tough-minded, fierce competitors and they have big hearts.”

Being the younger brother of a college star who led South Tahoe High to its last state championship might be too much pressure for some, but not Greg.

“I don’t really think about it much,” Greg said.

But since Brian and Greg play two different positions, there’s no point in comparing the two. Brian earned a college scholarship with his low-post power game during his final two seasons at Tahoe. Greg, a perimeter player, rarely ventures into the post, except to battle for a rebound.

Brian only saw his brother play once this season – during the Nike National Prep Classic in San Diego in December – but he liked what he saw.

“He definitely plays hard, but you have to play hard to play on Orlich’s team,” Brian said. “Greg has the same kind of attitude I have when I go out and play – let it all hang out, dive for loose balls and all of that kind of stuff.”

With Alan Case and Doug Wilson carrying the Vikings’ scoring, Greg rarely scores in double figures, but when he does the team thrives.

“He has the ability to be a great offensive player. There have been very few times that we’ve lost when he’s scored in double figures,” Orlich said.

Imagine this: Greg has even been accused of not shooting enough.

“If I’m wide open, I’ll take it. But if there is something better, I’ll try and get it in there,” said Bruso, who has a high game of 15 points this season.

Greg shoots so infrequently that his coach even has to remind him where the basket is.

“We tell him that before every game, that we need him to step up. He’s extremely tough mentally and he has a great shot. He just needs to be more assertive offensively to get his game going,” Orlich said.

In fact, Greg’s shooting form is so smooth that Brian is somewhat jealous.

“He has a nice outside shot, which is uncharacteristic of a Bruso,” Brian said.

While Greg routinely gives Orlich 6 to 8 points per game, that’s only half of his game.

“I have to try my hardest on defense to do my best,” Greg said.

With that attitude, there’s no question who Orlich’s defensive stopper is this season.

“He always plays against the other team’s toughest offensive player,” said Orlich, who doesn’t hesitate to have Greg defend Galena’s top gun Lance Buoncristiani and Sparks’ Josh Devine and Lamar Speights.

Unlike his brother, basketball isn’t Greg’s only game. When basketball season ends, Greg quickly puts on his glove and heads for the nearest mound.

“I really need to step up my (basketball) game. But with baseball it’s going to be tough because I play baseball all summer long. I usually start basketball when school starts,” Bruso said.

But Bruso would prefer to wait until Sunday to throw his first pitch. Bruso and the Vikings open the state tournament against Bishop Gorman on Thursday. Three wins on three straight days and the Vikings would be state champions by Saturday night.

“We just have to play our game. It could be our last game. We just have to play our hardest,” Greg said.

Maybe it’s time for Greg to set up a rematch. Brian’s confidence is waning because he knows his brother has youth on his side, not to mention the same competitive desire.

“I’ve heard he’s getting pretty good. I don’t know if I can hang with him anymore. I’m getting old,” Brian said.


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