ELYRIA — Buckeye girls basketball coach Randy Haury wasn’t sure what he watched Monday afternoon.
The Bucks committed a handful of unforced errors and were stagnant at times on the offensive end, resulting in a 61-40 loss to Bay in their Elyria Division II Sectional opener.
Maybe it was the early afternoon start or maybe it was the neutral site of the Elyria Administration Building gym, but Buckeye (9-12) didn’t look right from the opening tip.
“Too many turnovers and I didn’t know what we were running (on offense) at times,” Haury said. “It looked like we were standing still a lot.”
While the Bucks never got in any kind of rhythm, the Rockets (11-10) used big first and third quarters to coast to the first-round victory and advance to play Firelands on Saturday.
Four first-half 3-pointers forced Buckeye to come out of its multiple zone defenses and match up with Bay in the second half.
From that point, sophomore 6-foot-1 pivot Taylor Seton took over, scoring 11 of her 13 points in the final two quarters.
“Those threes killed us,” said Haury, referring to a 7-for-14 performance by the Rockets’ perimeter shooters. “That forced us to go man and we knew we didn’t want to go man-to-man with her. She’s a beast inside.
“I thought we did a pretty good job on her for a while, but as soon as they spread us out, she was just too big for us to play one-on-one.”
The Bucks clawed their way back to within five in the second quarter on a layup by senior Trisha Widenmeyer (10 points, 4 rebounds), but trailed by nine at the half.
Bay then put on a full-court press that forced five turnovers in the first three minutes of the second half, helping the Rockets jump out to a 15-point lead on a steal and layin from Jillian White (game-high 5 steals).
That lead reached 19 before the end of the third and was at 20 for most of the fourth, thanks to some solid shooting by Claire Werblak (16 points, 6 rebounds) and Kaleigh Sima (11 points, 7 assists), many of their points coming off the 24 turnovers committed by Buckeye.
“It seemed like we had a bunch of unforced turnovers and we never could quite get into it,” Haury said. “Every time we would get close, we would throw the ball away and they were converting on their fast breaks.
Senior point guard Brianna Hritz was a bright spot for the Bucks, scoring 14 points and shooting a sparkling 8-for-9 at the line.
Despite the mental errors and miscues, Haury was proud of his team. After taking over the program in the late summer — past the allotted time period given by the state to work with his players — the former boys coach at the school thought his squad picked things up rather quickly.
“I couldn’t be happier and my seniors played their hearts out,” said Haury, referring to Sierra Heaton, Widenmeyer, Hritz and Marie Mesmer. “There’s a difference when you have a whole summer with them and you can begin to put your system in before the season starts.
“We’re going to definitely miss those four seniors, but I’m happy with what I have coming back.”
Former Buckeye girls coach Connie Rummell was on hand taking in the games. Rummell was there for the nightcap — Vermilion vs. Holy Name — to watch niece AuBree LaForce play. LaForce and the Sailors fell to second-seeded Holy Name 45-35.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.