NORTH OLMSTED — Carter Hudak’s right ankle was swollen and sore, but he joked that it would feel “as good as new” by the morning.
Though his orthopedist would disagree, winning apparently cures all ills.
Hudak scored five points and assisted on five more during a critical two-minute stretch in the second half Tuesday, allowing Buckeye to beat North Olmsted 53-39 in a non-league boys basketball game.
“Carter really stepped up for us when we needed it,” Bucks coach Tom Harrington said. “He has been playing with that bad ankle all season, but he typifies the kind of team we have because he’s persistent and he never gives up or gives in. It’s nice to see that kind of effort be rewarded because Carter is a great kid.”
The Bucks had stormed to a 22-2 lead, only to have the Eagles pull within 35-31 late in the third quarter. Hudak immediately answered with a layup and a 3-pointer, then delivered passes that set up another deuce and three.
North Olmsted never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way as Buckeye (15-6) won its final road game of the regular season.
“This is the team we want to be: a group of guys who don’t fold or give up when something goes wrong,” said Hudak, a senior forward. “Everyone pulled together when we needed it tonight.”
Hudak finished with five points, a game-high nine rebounds and three assists despite missing much of the second quarter while having his ankle tightly taped.
Junior shooting guard Anthony Watkins led the Bucks with 18 points and three steals, while senior center Justin Canedy had 13 points and five boards. Senior power forward Spencer Imes added eight points, six rebounds and two steals.
“Our defense slipped a little bit after we got off to the great start, but we just kept playing and didn’t give in,” Imes said. “Coach gave us a great game plan and made us believe we could do this.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work, but any time you can get 15 wins in a season, it’s something to be proud of.”
Senior point guard Sean Rogers came up big off the bench with 22 points, six rebounds and two assists — all team highs — for the Eagles (1-20), while senior small forward Ilia Aleksic added six points.
North Olmsted’s starting lineup did not score until the 5:30 mark of the third after posting a 0-for-9, five-turnover first half. Hudak matched the Eagles’ team rebounding total of seven over the first two quarters.
“It’s human nature to back off after we took the big lead, but I was most proud of the way our guys struck back after North Olmsted made their nice run,” Harrington said. “Truthfully, it’s not easy to get up for a Tuesday non-league game on the road, which is why I look at this as a very good victory.”
Cameron Imes scored 21 points as the junior varsity Bucks beat the Eagles 66-54.
Buckeye 53, North Olmsted 39
BUCKEYE 18 12 12 11 — 53
NORTH OLMSTED 2 13 16 5 — 39
Buckeye — Spencer Imes 2-2-8, Carter Hudak 2-0-5, Justin Canedy 5-3-13, Anthony Watkins 7-4-18, Brock Brumfield 2-0-4, Mike Knoll 2-0-5, Adam Fauver 0-0-0, Aaron Drew 0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-9-53.
North Olmsted — Jared Strong 1-0-3, Darren Anders 0-0-0, Jon Kramer 2-0-5, Ben Lima 1-0-3, Jack Kelly 0-0-0, Sean Rogers 8-3-22, Sean Elbin 0-0-0, Sam Bring 0-0-0, Ilia Aleksic 2-2-6, Anthony Novak 0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-5-39.
3-point goals — Imes 2, Hudak, Knoll, Rogers 3, Strong, Kramer, Lima. Rebounds — Buckeye 28 (Hudak 9), North Olmsted 20 (Rogers 6). Assists — Buckeye 15 (Brumfield 7), North Olmsted 8 (Rogers 2). Records — Buckeye (15-6), North Olmsted (1-20). Junior varsity — Buckeye 66, North Olmsted 54.