Buckeye's Brock Brumfield (10) gets baseline past Black River's Devon McLean (4) at Black River. RUSS GIFFORD / GAZETTE
Russell A. Gifford Enlarge
SULLIVAN TWP. — Center Dom Monaco scored five points during a game-changing 7-0 run that took more than nine minutes to complete.
Let that sink in for a second.
In a Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division rivalry game that was memorable for bizarre reasons Friday, Buckeye’s boys basketball team overcame a ghastly second quarter in which it scored four points yet took the lead en route to defeating never-quit Black River 56-35.
The Bucks (7-2, 5-1), who have played inconsistently since beating Fairview in an overtime thriller, blew open an ugly game with a 23-9 third quarter. The aforementioned 7-0 run quickly stretched to 14 as the Pirates (2-5, 1-5) went scoreless for nearly 13 minutes.
“Strange,” grinning Buckeye coach Tom Harrington said. “Very strange.”
Outside of a 2-for-13 second quarter, Buckeye actually wasn’t bad offensively with quarters of 6-for-13, 9-for-14 and 6-for-10. A large portion of the Bucks’ scoring came off turnovers out of a 1-3-1 defense that kept Black River from utilizing a clock-chewing, four-corner offense.
Anthony Watkins stayed hot with 17 points (11 in second half), three assists and five steals. Fellow senior guard Brock Brumfield added 13 points (9 in second half) and four assists, power forward Michael Knoll (13 points) had 11 second-half points and Monaco continued his recent surge with five points and a game-high nine rebounds.
“Coach told us coming in that it was going to be a weird game,” Monaco said. “It’s always a weird game here, so we were ready for it.”
Playing its third straight game without 6-foot-9 center Jonathan Herb (illness), undersized Black River again struggled with turnovers (20) and failed to score in the second quarter. Remarkably, a 12-2 run to end the first quarter allowed the Pirates to survive, as they trailed only 16-14 at halftime.
Guard Caleb Poldruhi led with 14 points, three assists and two blocks. Power forward Brennan Scheck added eight points and eight rebounds, while 5-3 guard Devon McLean (4 points, 2 assists) shined as a defensive pest and pleased the crowd with a block of a driving 6-7 Knoll.
The third quarter was the problem, as Buckeye drilled open shots and continued to feast on turnovers.
“(The players) followed our game plan, and we had been working on it hard in practice this week,” Black River coach Randy Endsley II said. “The effort, these guys give that effort every night for me.
“We were physical. Tonight was the most physical we’ve been, and that’s the focus. We’re probably the smallest team (in the PAC Stars) with Herb out, so we talked about being physical and using our fouls.”
The Pirates established tempo immediately with the four-corner offense. The Bucks switched their defense from man to 1-3-1 zone and countered with a 10-0 run, but the Pirates regrouped with a flurry and led 14-12 after the first quarter.
That’s when the game became painful to watch, as the teams combined for four points on 2-for-21 shooting in the second. Pace was surprisingly moderate, too, as the Bucks continued to trap out of their 1-3-1 and tossed up hair-pulling misses at the other end against solid defense from Black River.
There wasn’t an adjustment to make even with a precarious 16-14 lead. Eventually, Buckeye believed shots were going to fall.
That’s exactly what happened during a 40-21 second half.
“After the first-half jitters, we came out in the second half ready to play,” Monaco said.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buckeye 56, Black River 35
BUCKEYE 12 4 23 17 — 56
BLACK RIVER 14 0 9 12 — 35
Buckeye — Aaron Drew 1-0-3, Michael Knoll 5-1-13, Dom Monaco 2-1-5, Anthony Watkins 8-0-17, Brock Brumfield 5-2-13, Cam Imes 1-0-2, Clay Gunkelman 0-0-0, Logan Schulz 0-1-1, Pat Midea 1-0-2, Jamie Geteian 0-0-0, Elijah Walker 0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-5-56.
Black River — Jay Chidsey 2-0-4, Brennan Scheck 3-0-8, Caleb Simonson 0-1-1, Caleb Poldruhi 5-3-14, Devon McLean 2-0-4, Gavin Ford 2-0-4, Kobe Crites 0-0-0, Kyle Potter 0-0-0, Zach Foster 0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-4-35.
3-point goals — Knoll 2, Watkins, Brumfield, Drew, Scheck 2, Poldruhi. Rebounds — Buckeye 24 (Monaco 9), Black River 21 (Scheck 8). Assists — Buckeye 8 (Brumfield 4), Black River 6 (Poldruhi 3). Records — Buckeye (7-2, 5-1), Pirates (2-5, 1-5). Junior varsity — Buckeye 51, Black River 30.