WELLINGTON TWP. — When you’re not invited to the big dance, redemption comes by ruining prom.
That was all the motivation the Buckeye boys basketball team needed Friday to end the regular season and Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division membership with a 57-48 win over Wellington.
The Dukes (11-11, 8-8) will join Black River, Brookside, Clearview, Columbia, Firelands, Keystone and Oberlin next season to form the Lorain County League.
The Bucks (19-3, 14-2) weren’t invited, and that added fuel to the fire as they made it a point to win their last league game.
“It was really important,” Bucks shooting guard Anthony Watkins said. “They were one of the ring leaders that wanted us out of here, so we wanted to end our farewell tour on a good note. It was the last game here. There’s no better way to do it.”
It wasn’t pretty, but winning was the top priority as Buckeye prepares to open North Ridgeville Division III Sectional play Tuesday against Brookside.
“We said that before the game,” Bucks coach Tom Harrington said. “We said one way or another we’re going to be a part of history. We wanted to be on the right side of it with a victory. That was definitely something we talked about. It was No. 1 on our board. It was the last game in the PAC. It was a big deal to us.”
It may have been an even bigger deal to point guard Brock Brumfield, who led all scorers with 26 points to go with three assists. The points didn’t come in a flurry, but every time the Bucks needed him, he stepped up.
“It's always in the back of my mind,” Brumfield said. “We have a really good team and three really good players in me, (Watkins) and Michael Knoll. One of us is going to step up on any given night. Tonight was just my turn.
“We kind of had an off night the whole night. We weren’t making shots and were turning the ball over, so I just kind of took it upon myself to win this game, because I didn't want to go out with a loss in the PAC.”
It started with Brumfield scoring nine of Buckeye’s 13 first-quarter points to give his team an eight-point lead.
It continued with a seven-point third quarter, but really reared its head in the fourth after a bucket by Mason McClellan (17 points) made the score 46-44 with 1:53 remaining.
Brumfield buried his head and drove to the basket three straight times and made 5-of-6 free throws to salt things away.
“Brock’s an animal,” said Watkins, who scored nine points and had a team-high four assists. “He’s always getting to the basket and making plays. He’s our point guard and our captain. He’s doing whatever he needs to do to get us the win.”
Lost in the euphoria was how Brumfield ended the first half. Wellington’s Noah Diermyer buried a 3-pointer from the corner with eight seconds left before intermission to close the score to 20-19. Undaunted, Brumfield rose up over three defenders at the top of the 3-point arc and drilled a shot at the buzzer.
The Bucks opened the third quarter on a 9-1 run and forced Wellington to play catchup.
“I talked about that at halftime,” Harrington said. “The difference between being up one and up four at halftime is really not that much, but mentally for him to make that three for us, that gave us a really big boost.”
The Buckeye junior varsity won 40-30 behind a 10-point effort from Pat Midea.
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
Buckeye 57, Wellington 48
BUCKEYE 13 10 15 19 — 57
WELLINGTON 5 14 8 21 — 48
Buckeye — Cam Imes 2-4-8, Michael Knoll 3-0-7, Dom Monaco 1-3-5, Anthony Watkins 4-1-9, Brock Brumfield 9-5-26, Aaron Drew 0-0-0, Clay Gunkelman 1-0-2. TOTALS: 20-13-57.
Wellington — Parker Adler 0-0-0, Troy Cole 0-0-0, Ryan Whitaker 5-0-10, Mason McClellan 6-5-17, Brandon Orozco 2-3-8, Noah Diermyer 2-0-6, Ben Bliss 3-0-7, Cole Standen 0-0-0, Jacob Shaver 0-0-0. TOTALS: 18-8-48.
3-point goals — Brumfield 3, Knoll, Diermyer 2, Bliss, Orozco. Rebounds — Buckeye 23 (Knoll 7), Wellington 14 (Whitaker 6). Assists — Buckeye 10 (Watkins 4), Wellington 12 (Orozco 5). Records — Buckeye (19-3, 14-2), Wellington (11-11, 8-8). Junior varsity — Buckeye 40, Wellington 30.