SULLIVAN TWP. — The Black River boys basketball team fought, clawed and scrapped back but ultimately couldn’t overtake Wellington.
Despite cutting a significant first-half deficit down to one possession multiple times in the final minutes, the Pirates fell 61-57 Friday in Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division action.
“We all lost, we all made mistakes,” said 6-foot-9 Black River center Jonathan Herb, who had a monster double-double with a career-high 29 points and 15 rebounds. “I made just as many mistakes as the next guy on our team. We all worked out there, and we didn’t make it. There’s just no more to say than that.”
The Pirates (2-8, 1-8) certainly closed the gap compared to the first meeting, a 78-57 Wellington win. In the second quarter, it looked like the Dukes (8-6, 5-4) were going to put on an encore performance as they mounted 27-16 lead.
That’s when Herb got to work. After being limited to four points in the first quarter, he dropped at least eight in each subsequent frame, including eight to help the Pirates close the first half on an 11-3 run.
“We turned the ball over quite a bit in the first half and didn’t get out on shooters a few times,” Black River coach Randy Endsley II said. “But the effort was there. They have a lot of guys who can score. It makes them tough to defend.”
Herb only had three rebounds at the break but grabbed 12 in the second half, many of them putbacks.
But every time the Pirates got close, Wellington’s Ryan Whitaker (22 points) or Noah Diermyer (21) had an answer. They combined for 26 points in the second half and also led the team in rebounding, Whitaker with six and Diermyer with five.
Whitaker, who was playing just eight days after his uncle, Michael Todd, died of a heart attack at the age of 38, saved his best for the fourth quarter, scoring nine points. His biggest shot was a 3-pointer with less than four minutes left to stretch the Wellington lead back to six points.
Black River got it down to a one-possession game three times, but 5-for-6 free throw shooting by Diermyer kept the Pirates at bay.
“We’ve definitely come a long way, but we haven’t come far enough,” Herb said. “It’s the same as last year. We started weak and got stronger, but never made it over that hump to finish a game. When we struggle to finish, we make big mistakes toward the end.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at email@example.com.
Black River 57
WELLINGTON 15 15 13 18 — 61
BLACK RIVER 11 16 14 16 — 57
Wellington — Noah Diermyer 7-4-21, Ryan Whitaker 7-5-22, Parker Adler 2-0-4, Mason McClellan 3-0-6, Brandon Orozco 1-1-4, Ben Bliss 2-0-4, Cole Standen 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-10-61.
Black River — Brennan Scheck 1-1-4, Caleb Simonson 0-0-0, Jonathan Herb 12-5-29, Devon McLean 2-0-5, Caleb Poldruhi 6-3-16, Jay Chidsey 1-0-3, Gavin Ford 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-9-57.
3-point goals — Diermyer 3, Whitaker 3, Orozco, Chidsey, McLean, Poldruhi, Scheck. Rebounds — Wellington 16 (Whitaker 6), Black River 35 (Herb 15). Records — Wellington (8-6, 5-4), Black River (2-8, 1-8). Junior varsity — Wellington 45, Black River 19.