YORK TWP. — First, Sydney Bell scorched the nets. Then she joined her Buckeye girls basketball teammates in cutting them down.
The 5-foot-8 sophomore power forward posted game highs of 19 points and nine rebounds Wednesday as the Bucks clinched at least a share of the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division title by whitewashing Black River 60-22.
Buckeye (17-3, 14-0), which has won 10 straight games, can win the crown outright by beating Columbia or Wellington or having the Dukes lose one of their remaining league games. Black River (2-18, 0-14), which trailed by 42 points after three quarters, lost its 15th game in a row.
“It’s awesome,” Bell said of Buckeye’s first league title in 13 years. “It feels amazing. I’m so proud of our team.”
Bell made her first four shots — three 3-pointers and a two — in scoring Buckeye’s first 11 points of the game to put her team up nine.
“At the beginning, it was fun,” she said. “We were just moving the ball and having a great time. We were getting the ball to each other and I just happened to be the person who was open. They were just falling for me.”
With 19 points through three periods — she played sparingly in the fourth — Bell was outscoring the Pirates’ entire team by seven. It wasn’t until the 5:35 mark of the fourth quarter that Black River pulled even, and it took a Summer Merry 3-pointer with 40 seconds to go for the Pirates to surpass her.
“Sydney Bell is an animal,” Bucks senior point guard Gabby Glancy said. “We can always count on her to do whatever she needs to do.”
Bell started as a freshman, but came off the bench for the first half of this season. Since moving back into the starting lineup, she’s been on an absolute tear.
“My confidence has gone up,” she said. “Last year I was kind of shy to shoot the ball. This year I started shooting more, and when they went in, my confidence went up even more.”
Not physically imposing or a great leaper, Bell also has developed into one of the team’s best rebounders, using footwork and geometry to get in proper position.
“I just try to get around people,” said Bell, who averaged 10.2 boards last season. “I see the ball go up and my mindset is to try to get it.”
The Bucks, who led 18-8, 38-10 and 54-12 at the quarter breaks, had a lot of players contribute against the Pirates. Courtney Keeler and Alyssa Beckett came off the bench for nine points apiece, while Glancy had eight, four boards and three assists.
Buckeye also got six rebounds and three assists from center Madison Ross, who didn’t let a three-point, 1-for-10 shooting performance affect other areas of her game, and six points, two boards and a team-high four assists from small forward Elizabeth Whetstone.
“It feels pretty awesome considering we haven’t done it since 2006,” Glancy said of clinching a share of the title. “Obviously, none of us were a part of that, so this is amazing. It feels great ending my senior year with a championship.”
If there was one sobering aspect to Buckeye’s win, it was that junior center Grace Allen wasn’t able to be on the court for it. Allen injured her right knee Monday against Keystone and will undergo an MRI next week but is likely done for the season.
As Buckeye players were cutting down the nets, a teammate threw Allen a string from one, after which she buried her head in her father’s chest and began crying.
“It stinks,” Glancy said. “She was a huge part of the team all season.”
The Pirates, who had one player with four points and four with two through three periods, committed 22 turnovers in the first half — they had 14 in the second quarter — and 33 for the night. They didn’t attempt a free throw in the game and were 6-for-32 from the floor (.188) prior to a 10-point fourth quarter.
Junior guard Sarah Kozik had five points in the fourth period to lead Black River with nine on 4-for-13 shooting. She also had a team-high six rebounds, while Kennedy Petruzzi had four points and five boards off the bench and power forward Kaylynn Maurer had five rebounds and two assists.
“That was not pretty,” Black River coach Wes Hockman said. “Anytime you turn it over, you can’t score and they’re going to have a numbers advantage. They had a ton of breakaways.”
Though victory wasn’t in doubt after Bell scored the first eight points of the game in 2:55, that didn’t dampen the Bucks’ title-winning enthusiasm.
“It’s a special moment for all of us,” Buckeye coach Ron Clady said. “We’re all excited. It’s hard to win a championship.”
Buckeye won the junior varsity game 50-20 behind 12 points from Madison Amburgey and 11 from Haylee Roach. Taylor Hendershot had 10 for the Pirates.
Buckeye 60, Black River 22
BLACK RIVER 8 2 2 10 — 22
BUCKEYE 18 20 16 6 — 60
Black River — Abbie Graves 0-0-0, Kaylynn Maurer 0-0-0, Grace Channel 1-0-2, Sarah Kozik 4-0-9, Lydia Wacker 1-0-2, Faith Simons 0-0-0, Ashley Kalman 1-0-2, Kennedy Petruzzi 2-0-4, Taylor Hendershot 0-0-0, Summer Merry 1-0-3, Kiersten Hendershot 0-0-0. TOTALS: 10-0-22.
Buckeye — Elizabeth Whetstone 2-2-6, Sydney Bell 7-1-19, Madison Ross 1-1-3, Tatum Widenmeyer 1-0-2, Gabby Glancy 4-0-8, Courtney Keeler 4-1-9, Autumn Meyer 1-0-2, Alyssa Beckett 4-0-9, Riley Vickerts 0-2-2. TOTALS: 24-7-60.
3-point goals — Kozik, Merry, Bell 4, Beckett. Rebounds — Black River 25 (Kozik 6), Buckeye 25 (Bell 9). Assists — Black River 6 (Maurer 2), Buckeye 14 (Whetstone 4). Records — Black River (2-18, 0-14), Buckeye (17-3, 14-0). Junior varsity — Buckeye 50, Black River 20.