Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Medina 34°

High School Basketball

Buckeye playoff push begins with thorough victory over Firelands

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    Buckeye's Justin Canedy goes up for a shot against Firelands' Jacob Schmitz during the first quarter of the Sectional semifinal game.


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    Buckeye's Anthony Watkins goes up for a shot against Firelands' Austin Urban during the second quarter of the Sectional semifinal game.


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    Buckeye's Brock Brumfield pushes the ball up the court against Firelands' Alexander Angle during the second quarter of the Sectional semifinal game. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

    Ron Schwane


YORK TWP. — When the bucket is as big as a washing machine, you keep chucking until you miss.

Behind a monster game from Anthony Watkins and unbelievable defense Tuesday, the fifth-seeded Buckeye boys basketball team opened North Ridgeville Division II Sectional play with a 61-36 win over 12th-seeded Firelands.

The win gave the Bucks (17-6) the rubber match after the two split in the regular season.

Watkins (21 points, 4 rebounds) was a big part. The junior sat on the wing and buried one 3-pointer after another to finish 8-for-14 from the floor, including 5-for-9 from behind the arc.

“It feels amazing,” Watkins said. “You just feel like everything is going to go in, so you just keep shooting. Once I missed that last one, I took a break.”

By the time Watkins took a break, Buckeye was already rolling over the Falcons (5-18) and looking forward to a sectional final at fourth-seeded Keystone (18-4) on Friday.

With the Bucks up only 29-25 at halftime, Watkins highlighted the third quarter with three 3-pointers as Buckeye shot 7-for-10 from the field and 4-for-6 from three to outscore Firelands 20-5.

“It’s definitely a confidence thing, and Anthony has it in him,” Buckeye coach Tom Harrington said. “He works a ton in the offseason and shoots a ton during the season before and after practice, so it was good for him to see the ball go through the net. I think he can do that more often. When one guy hits it, it opens things up and everybody is making shots.”

That was evident in the fact the Bucks shot 23-for-48 (.479) from the floor and 10-for-21 from the arc (.476) overall as Carter Hudak (10 points, 7 rebounds), Justin Canedy (10, 6) and Mike Knoll (9, 3) got in on the act.

“It was close up until the third,” Hudak said. “We pretty much got to the point where we pulled away with it. There was a lot of momentum that came with it. It was great. All we had to do was make stops and get him the ball. We’re always trying to find the open guy, but you have to note that he’s making shots.”

Lost in the 3-point barrage was another incredible defensive effort.

Buckeye held Firelands to five points in the third quarter and six in the fourth to cruise with another staunch effort from a team that came in allowing only 42.0 points per game.

Part of it was making sure someone other than Nick Denney (13 points) was going to beat the Bucks. Denney made a living in the lane in the first half to keep the Falcons close but scored only two points after the break.

“For us, it’s what we’re best at,” Harrington said. “I actually thought we were OK defensively in the first half. They hit some really difficult shots. In the second half, our concentration and our purpose were better. Our kids just worked their butts off, and I’m proud of them.”

Next up is another rubber match for the Bucks, who beat Keystone 49-43 on Dec. 22 but lost 40-38 at the buzzer on Feb. 2.

“We have to stick to our script,” Harrington said. “We have to be great defensively. They have the ability to shoot it. We have to be aware of their shooters, and I think that’ll give us the best chance for a victory. We know it’s going to be a tough one.”

Contact Brad Bournival at bournival929@gmail.com.

Buckeye 61, Firelands 36

North Ridgeville Division II Sectional Semifinal

FIRELANDS 10 15 5 6 — 36

BUCKEYE 13 16 20 12 — 61

Firelands — Nick Denney 6-18 0-0 13, Jacob Schmitz 1-5 0-2 2, Richard Maggard 5-7 1-2 11, Aaron Myers 2-2 0-0 6, Austin Urban 1-6 0-0 2, Casey Kelley 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Angle 0-0 0-0 0, Eric Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Sam Dennis 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Strader 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Rogosinski 0-0 0-0 0, Mitchell Hodges 1-1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 16-39 1-4 36.

Buckeye — Spencer Imes 2-7 0-0 6, Carter Hudak 4-6 0-0 10, Justin Canedy 4-7 2-2 10, Anthony Watkins 8-14 0-0 21, Brock Brumfield 1-4 3-4 5, Adam Fauver 0-1 0-0 0, Mike Knoll 4-6 0-1 9, Aaron Drew 0-3 0-0 0. 23-48 5-7 61.

3-point goals — Firelands 3-12 (Myers 2-2, Denney 2-7, Urban 0-3), Buckeye 10-21 (Watkins 5-9, Hudak 2-3, Imes 2-6, Knoll 1-1, Brumfield 0-1, Fauver 0-1), Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Firelands 23 (Maggard 12), Buckeye 26 (Hudak 7). Assists — Firelands 8 (Denney 2, Myers 2, Urban 2), Buckeye 17 (Brumfield 4). Turnovers — Firelands 14 (Myers 4), Buckeye 10 (Brumfield 4). Total fouls — Firelands 5. Technical — None. Records — Firelands (5-18), Buckeye (17-6).

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