Buckeye's Brock Brumfield is guarded by Columbia's Brandon Fisher (3) and fouled by Bailey Coleman during the first half. Aaron Josefczyk/Gazette
YORK TWP. — Buckeye will forever be known as the final Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division boys basketball champion.
Shooting guard Anthony Watkins collected 15 points, five rebounds and five assists Friday, leading the Bucks to a 58-46 victory over Columbia that clinched the outright crown for coach Tom Harrington’s squad.
Point guard Brock Brumfield added 12 points and five assists for Buckeye (15-3, 12-2), while small forward Cam Imes was a significant factor in the fourth quarter and finished with eight points, a team-high seven rebounds and three steals.
The triumph gave the Bucks a title sweep of the PAC’s top three revenue sports, winning a combined 31-of-33 games in football, boys hoops and girls basketball.
“It’s our PAC farewell tour, so of course we had to win it,” Watkins said with a wink. “Coach always asks for senior leadership, and there was no other way we were going out as a group than as conference champions. We saw the opportunity tonight and we took it.”
Though Buckeye never trailed and built a double-digit lead in the first quarter, it was unable to put away the Raiders (13-5, 9-5) until the closing minutes. A 3-pointer by Brandon Coleman pulled Columbia within 46-43 with 6:05 left.
Fittingly, every member of the Bucks lineup — all of them seniors — made at least one key play as they responded by ending the contest on a 12-3 run.
Power forward Michael Knoll buried a baseline jumper to make it a two-possession game, center Dom Monaco made a layup in transition, Watkins took a Brumfield pass and scored on a fast-break layup, Watkins then stole the ball for another score and Imes grabbed his second steal and iced the win with two free throws.
“We’ve always been confident because each of us will do everything we can to help our teammates,” Imes said. “(Watkins and Brumfield) make it easier on the rest of us because they command so much attention from the defense, and I was happy to be able to make some things happen with steals and rebounds down the stretch.”
Knoll added nine points and Monaco had five points and five boards against a spirited performance by the Raiders, whose other four league losses have come against Stripes Division co-leaders Fairview and Clearview.
Columbia center Adam Ross scored a game-high 20 points with eight rebounds, while power forward Coleman had five points and led all players with nine rebounds. Thanks to their strong work in the paint, the Raiders decisively claimed the battle of the boards, 32-24.
“We just didn’t get the production that we needed from all of our guys and we didn’t make the plays that you have to against a team like Buckeye,” Columbia coach Larry Babics said.
“They’re the best defensive team in our league by a number of points, and we missed a ton of layups and some free throws that could have made a big difference.”
Aaron Drew made two 3-pointers and Clay Gunkelman added a third off the bench for Buckeye, whose substitutes outscored their counterparts 9-2.
“From the beginning of the season, our goal was to win the last PAC championship ever,” Harrington said while wearing one of the nets around his neck. “I’m extremely proud of our kids for fully buying into what we’ve tried to do here. All of the credit goes to our players.”
Columbia center Charlie Simon pulled off the most impressive athletic feat of the evening, but it resulted in a turnover. With two seconds left in the third, Simon fired an inbounds pass from under the Raiders basket that sailed completely out of the gym on the other end and finally landed in the cafeteria.
Zach Stapleton scored 14 points as the junior varsity Bucks rolled to an 80-55 victory.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @BrianDulik on Twitter.
Buckeye 58, Columbia 46
COLUMBIA 7 15 17 7 — 46
BUCKEYE 17 13 15 13 — 58
Columbia — Caleb Borling 3-0-7, Brandon Coleman 2-0-5, Adam Ross 8-3-20, Brandon Fisher 3-2-10, Bailey Coleman 1-0-2, Charlie Simon 0-2-2, Jared Bycznski 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-7-46.
Buckeye — Cam Imes 2-3-8, Michael Knoll 4-0-9, Dom Monaco 2-1-5, Anthony Watkins 6-2-15, Brock Brumfield 3-4-12, Aaron Drew 2-0-6, Clay Gunkelman 1-0-3. TOTALS: 20-10-58.
3-point goals — Fisher 2, Br.Coleman, Borling, Ross, Brumfield 2, Drew 2, Imes, Knoll, Watkins, Gunkelman. Rebounds — Columbia 32 (Br. Coleman 9), Buckeye 24 (Imes 7). Assists — Columbia 10 (Simon 3), Buckeye 13 (Watkins, Brumfield 5). Records — Columbia (13-5, 9-5), Buckeye (15-3, 12-2). Junior varsity — Buckeye 80, Columbia 55.