SULLIVAN TWP. — The Black River boys basketball team woke up like a sassy coffee addict who needed a heavy dose of caffeine. The Pirates were angry, and they knew how to change that.
There was nothing Mansfield Temple Christian could do once Black River quenched its thirst Tuesday, as it regrouped with a vengeance to crush the non-OHSAA school 78-47 in non-league action.
The Pirates (4-9) have a winning streak for the second time this season, blowing out the Crusaders (2-13) three days after upsetting Loudonville 87-79. They also beat Firelands and Mapleton over a six-day stretch in December.
“We started off a little slow, but after we got into things, we were passing the ball really well,” guard Caleb Poldruhi said. “We were playing really good defense and rebounded as well.”
Playing much better defense and finally recognizing center Jonathan Herb stands 6-foot-9, Black River went on an 11-0 run that resulted in a 21-15 lead to begin the second quarter. The Pirates eventually won the quarter 24-7, then pushed the lead to 54-28 after three.
Poldruhi, who was clearly the most athletic player, drove into his favored mid-range area with ease and finished with 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting. Herb threw down his first home dunk and was instrumental in the decisive middle quarters with 13 points and nine rebounds — he finished with 15 and 12 — while 5-3 guard Devon McLean (6 points, 4 assists) was his usual annoying self defensively and backup forward Devin Humphreys looked like the second coming of Charles Barkley with 10 points and five rebounds in the fourth quarter.
“I like that we were able to get a lot of different people in,” said coach Randy Endsley II, who used 12 players. “We did get to work on a lot of things we haven’t done this year, so I was happy with some of the defensive changes we made up.”
The highlight of the night came with 3:45 left in game, when senior Kyle Potter scored his first career point by making the front end of a one-and-one.
“That’s a nice thing,” a beaming Poldruhi said. “He’s our favorite player on the team. We like to get him scoring as much as we can.”
Like many bite-sized Christian schools, Temple Christian had only two offensive threats and featured an usual offensive setup with 6-4 Logan Simpson playing point guard and 5-7 Kristian Chapman working the high-post as a pass-first, pass-second, shoot-only-when-necessary center. The latter often was guarded by Herb.
Simpson scored nine of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, while forward Levi Simpson was the most effective threat with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
The Crusaders struggled with the overall physicality, leading to a technical foul on the bench and many sarcastic one-liners from their small group of supporters. They fell to 0-2 against Medina County, having already played Medina Christian Academy.
“It was an execution thing. We don’t take anyone lightly, and we came out here trying to play our best,” Poldruhi said. “It didn’t really work in the first quarter, but we got it turned on.”
Black River 78, Temple Christian 47
TEMPLE CHRISTIAN 15 7 6 19 — 47
BLACK RIVER 10 24 20 24 — 78
Temple Christian — Matthew Simpson 1-1-3, Levi Simpson 5-0-12, Kristian Chapman 1-0-2, Colton Knepshield 3-0-7, Logan Simpson 5-8-20, Grant Baker 1-0-3, Micah Simpson 0-0-0, Camden Brooks 0-0-0, Zane Hoover 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-9-47.
Black River — Brennan Scheck 2-1-7, Caleb Simonson 2-0-4, Jonathan Herb 7-1-15, Devon McLean 3-0-6, Caleb Poldruhi 9-2-22, Jay Chidsey 3-1-7, Gavin Ford 1-2-4, Kyle Potter 0-1-1, Devin Humphreys 4-2-10, Kobe Crites 0-2-2, Ryan Schultz 0-0-0, Zach Foster 0-0-0. TOTALS: 31-12-78.
3-point goals — Le. Simpson 2, Lo. Simpson 2, Baker, Knepshield, Poldruhi 2, Scheck 2. Rebounds — Temple Christian 25 (Ma. Simpson 6), Black River 42 (Herb 12). Assists — Temple Christian 5 (Lo. Simpson 3), Black River 13 (McLean 4). Records — Temple Christian (2-13), Black River (4-9). Junior varsity — Black River 75, Temple Christian 26.