Black River's Jonathan Herb grabs a rebound during the first half against Buckeye. Aaron Josefczyk/Gazette
SULLIVAN TWP. — The Buckeye boys basketball team is saying there’s a chance.
The Bucks were all business Friday night in spoiling Black River’s senior night with a 61-36 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division victory, keeping alive their faint league title hopes.
If Buckeye (14-6, 11-4) wins at home next week against first-place Wellington and co-leader Keystone suffers a huge upset against Firelands, the Bucks, Dukes and Wildcats would share the Stars Division crown.
“We’ve got a chance,” coach Tom Harrington said. “That’s all we can ask for.”
Buckeye made sure it gave itself that opportunity against Black River (3-17, 1-13), jumping to a 16-6 lead after the first period and never looking back despite some uncharacteristic shooting woes.
Six-foot-1 center Justin Canedy led the way with 11 points, four rebounds and five blocks, while shooting guard Anthony Watkins, who got clobbered several times early but didn’t get a call, had 11 points and four boards.
“I probably have a few (bruises), but it’s all right,” Watkins said. “You just have to keep your composure and play through it and eventually shots will fall.”
Small forward Spencer Imes hit two late 3-pointers — the Bucks were 3-for-16 as a team — to finish with 10 points and five rebounds, point guard Brock Brumfield contributed nine points, four boards and two assists and power forward Carter Hudak had six, five and one.
Power forward Adam Fauver added two points and five rebounds off the bench as six Buckeye players finished with four or five boards.
“I thought we played really well,” Canedy said. “We didn’t shoot as well as we normally do, but our defense kept us ahead.”
Shorter than the man he’s defending in almost every game, Canedy went against 6-8 mountain man Jonathan Erb (4 points, 5 rebounds) for decent stretches Friday. Erb made both shots he took, but the Bucks forced several of the Pirates’ 22 turnovers while Black River was attempting to feed the post.
“I usually go against bigger guys, but not guys as big as him,” Canedy said. “I just followed our game plan and it worked out well. We limited his touches.”
Black River coach Randy Endsley II started his five 12th-graders, including seldom-used Russell Schultz and Chris Valentine, on senior night.
Schultz, who had three points on the season coming in, hit a pair of late hoops to finish with four, while the popular Valentine missed the front end of a one-and-one and a 3-pointer in the late stages to remain scoreless for the season.
“We wanted to get him his first points really bad,” said senior forward Zach Hawley, who led the Pirates with 11 points and six rebounds.
Black River also got eight points and six boards from senior forward River Wheeler and six points, two rebounds and two assists from junior guard Caleb Poldruhi.
“I was jittery because it was my last game on my home court,” Hawley said. “It was a weird feeling knowing this is it for me here.
“We played pretty good defense, but sometimes we let them get easy buckets. When you have kids that can jump like they can, it’s tough to always keep a body on them.”
Buckeye won the junior varsity game 62-27 behind 15 points from Aaron Drew. Gavin Ford had 11 for Black River.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.
Buckeye 61, Black River 36
BUCKEYE 16 12 15 18 — 61
BLACK RIVER 6 8 12 10 — 36
Buckeye — Spencer Imes 4-0-10, Carter Hudak 2-2-6, Justin Canedy 5-1-11, Anthony Watkins 5-0-11, Brock Brumfield 4-1-9, Mike Knoll 2-0-4, Adam Fauver 1-0-2, Cameron Imes 1-0-2, Aaron Drew 1-2-4, Jacob Doerge 0-0-0, Dominic Monaco 0-2-2, Clay Gunkelman 0-0-0, Owen Knittel 0-0-0, Jamie Geteian 0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-8-61.
Black River — Russell Schultz 2-0-4, Zach Hawley 4-3-11, River Wheeler 3-2-8, Chris Valentine 0-0-0, Garrett Hord 0-0-0, Caleb Poldruhi 2-2-6, Jonathan Erb 2-0-4, Brennan Scheck 1-0-3, Devon McLean 0-0-0, Kyle Foster 0-0-0, Caleb Simonson 0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-7-36.
3-point goals — S. Imes 2, Watkins, Scheck. Rebounds — Buckeye 34 (Hudak, S. Imes, Fauver 5), Black River 25 (Wheeler, Hawley 6). Assists — Buckeye 5 (Brumfield 2), Black River 5 (Poldruhi 2). Records — Buckeye (14-6, 11-4), Black River (3-17, 1-13). Junior varsity — Buckeye 62, Black River 27.