SULLIVAN TWP. — The wait for Black River’s first conference win ended Tuesday evening.
The Pirates methodically built a 20-point lead during the first three quarters and needed every point of it in holding off a furious Brookside rally to secure a 75-72 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division win.
Black River improved to 2-13 overall, 1-9 in the PAC. Brookside fell to 3-11, 2-9.
“Getting our first PAC win and getting it at home during youth night is very special,” Black River coach Randy Endsley said.
The Pirates led by 20 with 4:07 remaining, but that’s when Brookside found its stroke from 3-point range — connecting on six 3-pointers down the stretch to make things interesting. The Cardinals ultimately outscored the Pirates 25-8 in the last four minutes.
“I thought we never quit and fought like the dickens,” Brookside coach Phil Argento said. “You hate to get down like that, but that’s when you find out what you’re made of. Either you roll over and not give the effort (or you respond). I thought we gave the effort in the second half.”
Brookside sophomore Tyler Horvath, who Argento said was playing in his third varsity game of the season, was a big reason the Cardinals had a shot to steal the win. He connected on four 3-pointers in a span of 1:08 — four out of five possessions, the other a 3-pointer from Norman Elias — to cut the lead to six with 48.2 seconds to play.
Horvath finished with a team-high 18 points, going 6-for-6 from 3-point range, all in the last 10 minutes.
“I just got open shots,” he said. “We needed to get back and I just hit the shots that we needed. We learned that any amount we’re down we can come back as long as we play defense like we did.”
But Brookside never led — not even getting back within one possession with enough time to do something about it in the second half — thanks largely to Black River’s dominant play in the first three quarters.
The Pirates made a conscious effort to establish themselves inside, namely through center Jonathan Herb, who had 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. He scored eight in the first, also adding an emphatic block, as the Pirates fed him early and often.
“There was definitely a mismatch there,” Herb said. “I took advantage of that and it shows. I was able to get going very well in the beginning and they couldn’t stop me.
“I’m very proud of myself and my team. It feels great to get this win. It’s been so long since we’ve won so it feels amazing to finally do something right and get a win. We need it.”
All the attention on Herb opened things up for Caleb Poldruhi and River Wheeler, who had 21 and 17 points, respectively. Poldruhi did most of his damage in the first half, with 13 points and all three of his 3-pointers, including back-to-back to start the game.
“I was just getting open looks and took every chance I got,” Poldruhi said. “It feels great to win, especially with this home crowd here giving us an edge out there. That really helped us in the long run.”
Black River 75, Brookside 72
BROOKSIDE (72): Cody Mortensen 0-2-2, Jacob Cole 4-0-9, Nathan Brown 5-0-10, Norman Elias 3-0-9, Jacob Papa 3-0-8, Connor Baughman 3-1-7, Tyler Horvath 6-0-18, Cade Cook 0-0-0, Dylan Smith 3-3-9, Manny McNeil 0-0-0. Totals 27-6-72.
BLACK RIVER (75): Zach Hawley 2-1-5, River Wheeler 5-5-17, Jonathan Herb 8-4-20, Brennan Scheck 0-0-0, Caleb Poldruhi 9-0-21, Garrett Hord 2-2-6, Devon McLean 1-1-4, Caleb Simonson 0-0-0, Kyler Foster 1-0-2. Totals 28-13-75.
Brookside 17 10 13 32 — 72
Black River 21 15 19 20 — 75
Three-point goals: Brookside 12-28 (Horvath 6, Elias 3, Papa 2, Cole), Black River 6-13 (Poldruhi 3, Wheeler 2, McLean). Field goals: Brookside 27-54 (50 percent), Black River 28-53 (53 percent). Free throws: Brookside 6-11 (55 percent), Black River 13-22 (59 percent). Rebounds: Brookside 15 (Brown 4), Black River 29 (Herb 10). Fouls: Brookside 20, Black River 16. Fouled out: Brown, Hawley. Turnovers: Brookside 16, Black River 19.
Junior varsity: Black River, 50-42.