Menwith Hill decided to brave the winter weather and make the trip to the Continent for a pair of basketball games. The Mustangs’ reward for their intrepidity: Two exciting but ultimately disappointing outcomes, as they fell 41-38 Friday and 31-28 Saturday to unbeaten Brussels.

Friday, Braden Brower and Ryan Bottesini did all the scoring for Brussels. Brower led all scorers with 26 points, while Bottesini accounted for the Brigands’ other 15.

According to Brussels coach Chris Vahrenhorst, Brower was able to dominate the paint, thanks partly to crisp entry passes by Ivan Cular, who finished with six assists.

But Menwith Hill, behind 16 points from Chris Jackson and 13 by Schuyler Backlar, kept pace. Jackson and Backlar went a combined 4-for-5 on three-point tries in the second half. A third three-point attempt by Jackson, according to Vahrenhorst, bounded off the back of the rim with 13 seconds to go.

On Saturday, Vahrenhorst reported, both teams stepped up the defense. Menwith Hill held the lead for most of the game, but Brussels tied the score at 25 late in the fourth quarter.

A Backlar trey made it 28-25, before a Cular feed to Bottesini produced a layup to cut the deficit to one. Brussels followed with a defensive stop, and with 20 seconds left, Austen Eperjesi, a freshman off the bench, canned a 15-foot jumper for the lead.

Brower then stole the ball on the defensive end, got fouled and converted a one-and-one opportunity to pad the lead with 3.8 seconds left. Backlar had a decent look at a long three-pointer, Vahrenhorst reported, but it glanced off the rim as time expired.

Brussels improved to 4-0 overall and in Region I. After four games against regional Division III teams, the D-III Brigands are to take on D-I International School of Brussels in a Region I road game Tuesday.

The games were the first official ones of the season for Menwith Hill, which next plays Jan. 7-8 at the American Community School at Hillingdon.

In other boys games of note in a weather-plagued final weekend of the 2010 portion of the season:

Aviano 37, Marymount International School of Rome 14: Saturday at Aviano, the Saints’ persistence at slowing the game down resulted in the team’s first non-courtesy rule victory of its unbeaten season.

Myron McRae, who scored 21 points in Friday’s 59-7 courtesy rule drubbing of the Royals, led the way again Saturday with 11 points as the Saints joined Brussels and Heidelberg at 4-0 for the season. Aviano opened its season with 39-point courtesy rule victories the previous weekend against the International School of Florence.

Next up for Aviano is a date against visiting American Overseas School of Rome on Jan. 14-15.

American Overseas School of Rome 66, Vicenza 44: Saturday at Vicenza, the Falcons evened their season and regional record at 2-2 behind a second-straight 19-point performance from Nate Sieben. Daniel Roman-Cohen added 17 points for AOSR, which got nine rebounds and four blocks from Jacopo Lorenzi. The figures proved solid enough to counter Gary Donald’s game-high 23 points for Vicenza, which also finished the pre-holiday part of its season at 2-2.

AOSR won Friday’s game, 47-46, by sinking five three-pointers in the final eight minutes.

International School of Brussels 52, AFNORTH 44: Saturday in a region I game at Brussels, ISB’s Stephen Clark won his points duel against AFNORTH sophomore Nuri Karaca with 27 points. Karaca scored 23 for AFNORTH.

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