SULLIVAN TWP. – Playing its second game in as many nights, Black River’s boys basketball team looked as fresh and as sharp as it did the night before.
The Pirates used the inside-outside tandem of Jon Sas and Jake O’Connor to outlast the Wellington Dukes 75-71 in overtime. The duo combined for 43 points and proved to be a headache for the Dukes.
The win by the Pirates (7-11, 5-7) all but ends any chance the Dukes (7-8, 5-6) had of repeating as Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division champions.
“This is a huge win for us and a big loss for them,” said Sas, who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. “It shows that we can compete when we are focused. A lot of what has gone wrong this season has been our own fault. The win tonight and the one last night against Columbia shows what we are capable of.”
Black River held leads of at least seven points in the first, third and fourth quarters, yet could never put together a stretch to extend the lead.
Slowly, Wellington worked its way back into the game.
The Pirates led 58-51 in the fourth quarter following a baby hook off the glass by Joe Tutie. However, Wellington came charging back with a 3-pointer by Dylan Weidrick (13 points) that sparked a 8-2 run by the Dukes.
The final three points of the stretch came from Brady Shaw (16 points), who hit all three foul shots after being fouled by Black River’s John Guilford on a 3-point attempt with 15.5 seconds left in regulation.
Wellington quickly fouled Sas on the ensuing possession, and Sas calmly hit both free throw attempts to put Black River up 62-59 with 14.1 ticks left.
Wellington called a timeout to draw up a final shot in hopes of sending the game to overtime. The Dukes broke out of the huddle and worked the ball into the hands of senior Nathan Starkey (15 points), who quickly nailed a 3-pointer as time expired to send the game into overtime.
“We knew what we needED to do,” said O’Connor, who hit six 3-pointers and finished with 23 points. “We had to come out and re-establish ourselves quickly. We let Wellington back in it and we knew we needED to slam the door on them or we were going to lose it.”
Black River opened the extra period by going to Sas inside on back-to-back possessions to extend its lead to 66-62. A basket by Starkey cut it to 66-64, but O’Connor split a pair of free throws.
Shaw hit his third 3-pointer to pull Wellington to 72-71 with 41 second remaining. The Pirates’ Dean Finkel split a pair of free throws, and Mat Stuart rebounded a Wellington miss and sealed the Pirates win with free throws.
“This is a great win for the kids,” Black River coach Don Brunker said. “They have really been playing hard lately and they are seeing that pay off. We have been encouraging Jake to shoot more from the perimeter and Jon to work more on the block.
“It’s become a nice 1-2 punch for us.”
The loss was the second tough one for the Dukes in a span of three days. They lost to Buckeye on Tuesday on a last second shot. The loss to the Pirates only compounded the disappointment.
“I feel bad for our guys,” said Wellington coach Nathan Morris. “They came off a tough loss on Tuesday and came into tonight ready to play. We did a lot of things right tonight except score more points than Black River.
“No matter what we did defensively, they had an answer for it either inside with Sas or outside with O’Connor.”
Contact Hans Schneider at (440) 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Black River 75, Wellington 71
WELLINGTON 12 15 12 23 9 — 71
BLACK RIVER 12 15 19 16 13 — 75
Wellington —Brady Shaw 5-3-16, Nathan Starkey 6-1-15, Dylan Weidrick 6-0-13, Zac Gilbert 3-5-11, Justin Kidd 2-1-7, Jason Perry 1-3-6, Devin Broadwater 1-0-2, Josh West 0-1-1. TOTALS: 24-14-71.
Black River —Jake O’Connor 8-1-23, Jon Sas 9-2-20, Mat Stuart 1-7-9, Joe Tutie 4-0-8, Dean Finkel 2-3-8, John Guilford 2-1-5, Brian Clement 1-0-2. TOTALS: 27-14-75.
3-point goals — Shaw 3, Starkey 2, Kidd 2, Weidrick, Perry, O’Connor 6, Finkel. Rebounds — Wellington 43 (Gilbert 13), Black River 28 (Sas 7). Junior varsity — Black River 58, Wellington 53.