SHEFFIELD — Tyler Horvath and Josiah Ortiz frantically dove for a loose ball with 34 seconds remaining and the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division game well out of reach.
The Brookside boys basketball team is sending a loud and clear message it will not back down, and Buckeye received it Friday despite pulling away late for a misleading 49-33 victory.
The night was bogged down by bricked 3-pointers, turnovers, great defense and a possible Lorain County record for stoppages to wipe sweat off the floor. The Bucks (3-0, 3-0) ultimately emerged due to stellar defense and all-division point guard Brock Brumfield scoring 15 of his game-high 17 points in the second half.
But all anyone wanted to talk about was how ridiculously hard the Cardinals (1-3, 0-3) played.
“They got a lot better over the offseason,” Brumfield said. “Coach (Tom) Harrington was telling all of us that, and I don’t think we really believed him. That’s on us.
“We didn’t play to the best of our ability, but they took advantage of it. A lot of credit goes to them for hopping on us. Next time we’ve got to come out better.”
Brumfield scored or assisted on 10 straight points to give Buckeye a 30-14 lead late in the third quarter and added four points in a game-ending 14-4 run. Guard Anthony Watkins had a stat-stuffing first half to finish with 13 points, three rebounds, three assists, 10 steals and two blocks, while pseudo center Michael Knoll overcame a slow start to add 10 points.
Playing without 13-point scorer Jacob Cole (left foot), the Cardinals got 10 points, three rebounds and four steals from center Cody Mortensen but little else offensively while shooting 13-for-35 (.371) with 26 turnovers. Brookside stuck around with outstanding, trap-heavy defense in the half court that held one of the top perimeter teams in the PAC to 1-for-11 3-point shooting.
“We’ve been talking for months to make people know that we’re here,” first-year Cardinals coach Corey Emerine said. “We lost that game by 16, but it really was eight. It was a lot closer than the scorebook says.”
Brookside appeared dead in the water after Brumfield’s spurt in the third. However, a few stops turned into transition opportunities — the Bucks had 23 turnovers — and Mortsensen led an 11-3 run that got the score to 33-25 heading into the fourth.
Brookside kept fighting, and a steal-and-score by Connor Baughman (5 points, 7 rebounds) made it 33-27. Buckeye then managed the slim lead before making 10-of-15 free throws to balloon the score.
Brumfield took it upon himself to step up after going into halftime with two points, one rebound, one steal and two turnovers.
“The team needed a push, and I kind of take it personal,” he said. “Me, (Knoll and Watkins) are the leaders of this team, really, and if they aren’t doing something, maybe I need to.”
The game couldn’t have started uglier, as the teams combined for seven points and nine turnovers in the first 3:33. Brookside’s first three shots were air ball, air ball, glass ball, and Watkins was a two-way force with six points, two assists and six steals as the quarter ended 13-9 Buckeye.
The second was much of the same, as the teams combined to score 10 points on 4-for-17 shooting, though the turnovers were limited to 10. The Cardinals didn’t have a player with more than three points yet only trailed 20-12 at recess.
The only thing that stopped Brookside from an upset was Brumfield, who got to the rim at will in the second half.
“I’m actually really proud of our guys,” Harrington said. “That game could have easily went the other way and they hung tough.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buckeye 49, Brookside 33
BUCKEYE 13 7 13 16 — 49
BROOKSIDE 9 3 13 8 — 33
Buckeye — Aaron Drew 2-0-5, Dominic Monaco 1-2-4, Michael Knoll 3-4-10, Anthony Watkins 5-3-13, Brock Brumfield 6-5-17, Cam Imes 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-14-49.
Brookside — Tyler Horvath 2-0-5, Connor Baughman 2-1-5, Cody Mortensen 4-3-11, Jon Wright 3-0-6, Exavier Oritz 0-0-0, Josiah Ortiz 1-2-4, Malachi Sheffield 0-0-0, Dylan Smith 1-0-2, Andre Gardner 0-0-0, Jordan Sweeney 0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-6-33.
3-point goals — Drew, Horvath. Rebounds — Buckeye 24 (Imes 6), Brookside 17 (Baughman 7). Assists — Buckeye 4 (Watkins 3), Brookside 4 (Smith 2). Records — Buckeye (3-0, 3-0), Brookside (1-3, 0-3). Junior varsity — Buckeye 55, Brookside 21.