Buckeye's Mike Knoll scores on an alley-oop from Brock Brumfield against Black River in the second quarter. Aaron Josefczyk/Gazette
YORK TWP. — The final Patriot Athletic Conference home game in Buckeye boys basketball history was played Friday night.
The opponent was archrival Black River and the lopsided final score was expected, but how it transpired was worth noting.
The Bucks trailed with 70 seconds left in the first half, woke up with a vengeance and rode the wave of momentum to pull away 69-51 in what amounted to a pride game with the PAC Stars title locked up.
Buckeye (17-3, 12-2) has won 19 straight against the Pirates (6-13, 2-12) and hasn’t lost at home in the series since Dec. 14, 2001.
“It was a bittersweet game,” power forward Michael Knoll said. “It’s senior night and we’re all happy, but we all know the end is coming. I’m just happy we got the win and that we had a lot of fun doing it as a team.”
Knoll scored six of his game-high 24 points in a momentum-changing Bucks 9-0 run over the final 65 seconds of the first half. Anthony Watkins capped the splurge by banking in a sideline half-courter at the buzzer that put Buckeye ahead 35-27.
The halftime break did little to cool down the Bucks, who stayed true to their trapping 1-3-1 zone and ball-sharing philosophy. The Bucks won the middle quarters 45-23 while making 17-of-31 field goals, 5-of-13 3-pointers and 6-of-9 free throws while forcing 13 turnovers.
Fellow seniors Watkins (14 points, 6 assists), Brock Brumfield (11, 6 assists), Cam Imes (10, 5 rebounds, 6 steals) and Dom Monaco (4, 5 rebounds, 3 steals) also contributed.
“We were getting turnovers, but we just needed to make the most of our offensive possessions,” Buckeye coach Tom Harrington said. “We missed a few free throws (6) and a couple layups in the first half off of turnovers, and I thought that hurt us.
“I thought we were playing better than we realized. We just had to put the points on the board.”
Fully expecting a 1-3-1 zone after the Bucks used the scheme with success in a 56-35 win at Black River on Jan. 4, the Pirates executed well offensively when they didn’t turn over the ball and scored via Jay Chidsey corner 3-pointers, Caleb Poldruhi (12 points, 4 assists) drives down the lane or Caleb Simonson (13 points, 11 rebounds) flashing baseline.
Black River led 16-10 after the first quarter and regrouped after Buckeye furiously scored 10 points in the first 1:40 of the second. The turnovers continued to mount, however, and the score got out of hand quickly in the second half.
Coach Randy Endsley II was still happy with the effort.
“We talked about passion and heart, and those were the keys for us tonight,” he said. “I didn’t think we came out with passion against Medina Christian (on Tuesday), so we really focused the last couple of days in practice on heart. They came out with confidence and continued through.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buckeye 69, Black River 51
BLACK RIVER 16 11 12 12 — 51
BUCKEYE 10 25 20 14 — 69
Black River — Brennan Scheck 2-0-5, Caleb Simonson 6-1-13, Jonathan Herb 4-0-8, Caleb Poldruhi 5-0-12, Devon McLean 0-0-0, Jay Chidsey 2-1-7, Gavin Ford 3-0-6, Kyle Potter 0-0-0, Devin Humphreys 0-0-0, Kobe Crites 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-2-51.
Buckeye — Jamie Geteian 0-0-0, Michael Knoll 8-7-24, Logan Schulz 0-0-0, Cam Imes 4-0-10, Anthony Watkins 6-0-14, Brock Brumfield 4-1-11, Dom Monaco 1-2-4, Clay Gunkelman 1-0-2, Aaron Drew 1-0-3, Pat Midea 0-0-0, Danny Flood 0-0-0, Zack Weber 0-1-1, Elijah Walker 0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-11-69.
3-point goals — Poldruhi 2, Chidsey 2, Scheck, Imes 2, Watkins 2, Brumfield 2, Drew, Knoll. Rebounds — Black River 29 (Simonson 11), Buckeye 25 (Imes 5). Assists — Black River 13 (McLean 5), Buckeye 15 (Watkins, Brumfield 6). Records — Black River (6-13, 2-12), Buckeye (17-3, 13-2). Junior varsity — Buckeye 65, Black River 34.