SULLIVAN TWP. — The Buckeye girls basketball team was eager to put the struggles of a two-game losing streak behind it.
Medina County rival Black River was on the wrong side of the Bucks’ enthusiasm Saturday, as the Bucks returned to Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division play with a 58-23 victory.
Buckeye (8-3, 6-0) catapulted off a 16-0 run over the first seven minutes and never trailed to set up a huge showdown with defending division champion Wellington (8-3, 6-0) this week.
“It was pretty important to us (to start fast), because we’ve had a rough past couple games,” junior Madison Ross said. “We had to come back and get going early.”
Senior Elizabeth Whetstone started the run with a layup off a turnover by the Pirates (2-8, 0-6). Ross (game-high 15 points) followed with one of her game-high three 3-pointers and fed sophomore guard Sydney Bell with an inbounds pass to give Buckeye a 7-0 lead.
“We’ve struggled to score all year. I didn’t expect us to struggle as much as we have,” Pirates coach Wes Hockman said. “Hats off to Buckeye. We knew coming in this would be the best or second-best team in the (league), depending on Wellington. They’re really deep and talented, a good team and well-coached.”
Sophomore Alyssa Beckett capped the run before senior Grace Channel put Black River on the scoreboard with one minute left in the quarter.
The Bucks went on a 10-2 run through the middle of the second quarter, as Ross and point guard Gabby Glancy hit on shots from behind the arc to build a 31-6 lead.
“They hit a lot of threes, and our league isn’t that great at outside shooting, so our game plan is generally most nights to make teams beat us out there,” said Hockman, whose team got nine points from Lydia Wacker. “We elected to stay in our base defense and not stretch out because of our respect for Grace Allen and the respect we have for their other bigs inside.”
The Pirates’ strategy worked from the perspective that Allen (game-high 14 rebounds) was without a point in the first half and had only two points for the game, but Ross and Glancy combined for five triples.
Sophomores Riley Vickerts and Courtney Keeler and senior Tatum Widenmeyer also hit 3-pointers.
Led by three steals apiece by Allen and Glancy, Buckeye turned up the defensive intensity on Black River (23 turnovers). After three quarters, the Bucks had an 18-9 advantage in takeaways before the Pirates forced six turnovers with mostly backups in.
“We’ve worked really hard on our man-to-man defense and being able to put pressure on the ball,” Bucks coach Ryan Clady said. “Making the offense do what we want them to do so that we can get what we want on defense and we really established that today.”
Buckeye 58, Black River 23
BUCKEYE 16 20 16 6 — 58
BLACK RIVER 2 7 7 7 — 23
Buckeye — Elizabeth Whetstone 1-0-2, Madison Ross 6-0-15, Grace Allen 1-0-2, Sydney Bell 4-0-8, Gabby Glancy 4-0-10, Riley Vickerts 1-0-3, Courtney Keeler 2-0-5, Autumn Meyer 2-0-4, Tatum Widenmeyer 2-0-5, Alyssa Beckett 2-0-4. TOTALS: 25-0-58.
Black River — Kennedy Petruzzi 0-2-2, Abbie Graves 0-0-0, Grace Channel 2-0-4, Lydia Wacker 3-3-9, Sarah Kozik 1-0-2, Faith Simons 0-0-0, Ashley Kalman 3-0-6, Kaylynn Maurer 0-0-0, Taylor Hendershot 0-0-0, Summer Merry 0-0-0, Kiersten Hendershot 0-0-0. TOTALS: 9-5-23.
3-point goals — Ross 3, Glancy 2, Vickerts, Keeler, Widenmeyer. Rebounds — Buckeye 40 (Allen 14), Black River 28 (Channel, Maurer 5). Assists — Buckeye 15 (Whetstone, Meyer 3), Black River 6 (Graves 2). Records — Buckeye (8-3, 6-0), Black River (2-8, 0-6). Junior varsity — Buckeye 68, Black River 10.