YORK TWP. — When facing the champion, the challenger has to throw the first punch and get the first knockdown if they want a chance to take away the belt.
The Buckeye girls basketball team knew that Wednesday and sent a message to the rest of the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division by knocking off Wellington 57-48.
The win didn’t just put the Bucks (9-3, 7-0) atop the Stars Division by themselves, it snapped a 22-game league winning streak by the reigning champion Dukes (8-4, 6-1).
“This game was the precept for the rest of the season,” Buckeye center Grace Allen said. “This is the road to the PAC. From here, we just have to keep winning and the PAC can be ours. We face them again, but it’s good to play a good game the first time we meet.”
The second time happens Feb. 13 and will likely be for at least a share of the division, at minimum, if things continue to play out the way they have. Third-place Firelands (5-5, 4-3) already is three games behind.
For now, however, Buckeye will enjoy the win before playing Saturday at Oberlin.
“This one was very important, for us especially,” Bucks coach and former Dukes boss Ron Clady said. “Wellington is the champion and they’re undefeated, really, because they haven’t lost at all over the last two years. For us to establish this first win, it’s obviously going to give us some motivation and confidence to keep playing well and doing what we know we can do, and that’s compete in this conference.”
Gabby Glancy (career-high 18 points, 5 assists), Allen (11 points, 18 rebounds) and Madison Ross (11 points, 4 assists) paced the Bucks throughout, but the first quarter put Wellington on its heels.
While Wellington only turned the ball over four times, it shot 1-for-10 and didn’t make a basket until Amanda Spiekerman hit a jumper from the elbow with 28 seconds remaining.
Other than that, Jalen Gibbs (22 points) split a pair of free throws and Buckeye enjoyed a 17-3 lead after one.
“It hyped me and the whole team up and got us going,” Glancy said. “It was very important because they’re the team we wanted to beat. Usually we’re a second-half team and we start out strong in the third quarter, but we wanted to start out strong right away.”
With center Alexis Lehmkuhl out for the Dukes, Wellington was missing 15.6 points. Gibbs was in foul trouble most of the first half, and it equated to a 5-for-24 shooting performance for Wellington at the break.
“Usually how we played the first quarter today is how we play the third quarter,” Allen said. “In the locker room before the game, I made sure to make the point, ‘Let’s make the first quarter like the third quarter. Every quarter it’s 0-0. We have to go out there and outscore them each quarter.’”
As it turned out, the Bucks needed every bit of that 14-point lead. Gibbs scored 20 points in the second half and was personally responsible for 14 of the Dukes’ 16 in the third quarter.
While Buckeye was up 41-31 after three, Wellington showed the heart of a champion and twice cut the lead to five, the last at 53-48 with 34.2 seconds remaining. But Glancy knocked down a pair of free throws and the Bucks’ Elizabeth Whetstone accounted for the last two points.
“We just had to keep going,” Glancy said. “We had to end it the way we started the game and we couldn’t let anything affect us.”
The Buckeye junior varsity won 40-23. Courtney Keeler paced the Bucks with 13 points.
Buckeye 57, Wellington 48
WELLINGTON 3 12 16 17 — 48
BUCKEYE 17 15 9 16 — 57
Wellington — Jill Laposky 0-0-0, Lexi Wright 1-3-6, Erin Frenk 2-0-4, Brooklinn Damiano 0-0-0, Jalen Gibbs 5-12-22, Grace Dudziak 0-0-0, Julia Molek 3-0-8, Jenna Calfo 1-0-2, Amanda Spiekerman 3-0-6. TOTALS: 15-15-48.
Buckeye — Elizabeth Whetstone 3-1-7, Madison Ross 4-3-11, Grace Allen 5-1-11, Sydney Bell 2-0-4, Gabby Glancy 7-2-18, Autumn Meyer 3-0-6, Riley Vickerts 0-0-0, Courtney Keeler 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-7-57.
3-point goals — Glancy 2. Rebounds — Wellington 35 (Gibbs 10), Buckeye 39 (Allen 17). Assists — Wellington 10 (Spiekerman 4), Buckeye 18 (Glancy 5). Total fouls — Wellington 15, Buckeye 14. Records — Wellington (8-4, 6-1), Buckeye (9-3, 7-0). Junior varsity —Buckeye 40, Wellington 23.