Buckeye's Anthony Watkins puts up a shot over the defense of Keystone's Ashton Waite during the first half. Aaron Josefczyk/Gazette
LAGRANGE — A remarkable second-half turnaround knocked the Buckeye boys basketball team from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Keystone limited the Bucks to three baskets over the final two quarters Friday, allowing it to take over sole possession of first place in the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division with a 47-31 victory.
Buckeye (4-1, 4-1), which led by eight points in the opening period and 23-17 at the break, was outscored 30-8 in the second half as the Wildcats (6-2, 5-0) overwhelmed the Bucks.
“Give Keystone credit because they did a great job tonight,” Buckeye coach Tom Harrington said. “It’s just really hard to figure out why we came out as flat as we did in the second half.
“I thought we played pretty well up to that point — even though we were struggling to make shots — but we couldn’t sustain it. What bothered me the most, though, were the turnovers and that our defense wasn’t sound when we came back out.”
Senior point guard Brock Brumfield made two of Buckeye’s three field goals in the second half and finished with a game-high 10 points. Junior small forward Aaron Drew had six points, including a 3-pointer late in the third quarter.
The Bucks’ largest lead occurred at the end of the first when senior shooting guard Anthony Watkins buried a trey to put them ahead 17-9. Buckeye made just 5-of-32 shots the rest of the way, including 3-of-16 in the second half.
“Switching to a zone defense really helped because we were able to keep them out of the paint and force them into taking shots that they didn’t want to,” Wildcats junior center Bryan Sayers said. “Once we got going, the fans were great and the atmosphere was amazing. It was really nice playing at home tonight.”
Sayers and senior center Mason Strader ignited the crowd by combining for 15 points off the bench while neutralizing Buckeye pivot Michael Knoll, the leading scorer in the division at 19.0 per game.
The 6-foot-7 senior was held to a season-low five points on 1-of-9 from the field with 12 rebounds. Knoll scored a single point with two boards in the second half while being blanketed by the aforementioned duo.
“In the first half, it seemed like Knoll was getting his hands on every rebound and was involved with every play,” Keystone coach Jeff Holzhauer said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way (Sayers and Strader) played and the job they did in the middle of our zone.”
Sayers collected nine points on 4-for-4 shooting with a team-best eight rebounds, while Strader had six points and two boards. Senior power forward Kevin Mealwitz added seven points, six rebounds and three assists for the Wildcats, and junior point guard Ethan Sokolowski had four points and a game-high five assists.
Buckeye was outrebounded 11-7 in the second half and committed all 12 of its turnovers in the final 25 minutes. Watkins chipped in five points and four rebounds.
“We had a great practice yesterday and a great shootaround this morning,” Harrington said. “I didn’t really say a whole lot to the team after the game because I’m still not sure what happened after halftime.”
Sophomore Sean Saterlee scored a game-high 15 points as the junior varsity Wildcats posted a 45-42 overtime win. Sophomore Zach Weber and freshman Danny Flood had 10 points apiece for the Bucks.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.
Keystone 47, Buckeye 31
BUCKEYE 17 6 6 2 — 31
KEYSTONE 9 8 19 11 — 47
Buckeye— Aaron Drew 2-0-6, Michael Knoll 1-2-5, Dominic Monaco 1-0-2, Anthony Watkins 2-0-5, Brock Brumfield 5-0-10, Cam Imes 1-0-3. TOTALS: 12-2-31.
Keystone— Jacob Shackelford 0-0-0, Kevin Mealwitz 2-2-7, Matt Mealwitz 2-0-4, Ashton Waite 2-2-8, Ethan Sokolowski 2-0-4, Mason Strader 3-0-6, Kollin Rodick 3-0-9, Bryan Sayers 4-0-9, Sean Saterlee 0-0-0. TOTALS: 18-4-47.
3-point goals— Drew 2, Knoll, Watkins, Imes, Rodick 3, Waite 2, K.Mealwitz, Sayers. Rebounds— Buckeye 26 (Knoll 12), Keystone 22 (Sayers 8). Assists— Buckeye 6 (Knoll, Brumfield 2), Keystone 12 (Sokolowski 5). Records— Buckeye (4-1, 4-1), Keystone (6-2, 5-0). Juniorvarsity— Keystone 45, Buckeye 42 (OT).