LAGRANGE — When things get hectic, any good boys basketball team needs a point guard to calm the nerves.
Buckeye’s Ryan Grauel did just that Friday night, as the floor general’s key plays late helped the Bucks grind out a 47-44 overtime win over Keystone in Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division play.
With the pesky Wildcats pecking away at what was a comfortable lead for Buckeye (7-3, 5-2) and, in turn, forcing the extra session, the 5-foot-11 sophomore found teammate after teammate in OT to help keep the Bucks atop the division.
“He’s a great player,” Buckeye coach Matt Saunders said. “For as young as he is and some of the passes and things he sees on the floor, it’s just incredible.”
After a Grauel layin off a feed from Cory Inman put the Bucks up with less than 2 minutes to go in OT, C.J. Conrad gave Keystone (4-7, 3-4) its second lead of the extra session — and just its third of the night — on a pair of free throws.
That’s when the playmaking Grauel dished out a pair of his five assists — one to Matt Cox (12 points, 4 steals) and the other to Garrett Beck (game-high 23 points, 11 rebounds) — to give Buckeye the go-ahead points it needed.
“I was just trying to get the team settled down and under control,” said Grauel, who also had six points and three steals. “We were just pushing the ball because we didn’t want them to get settled. I just found the guys in the openings.”
Buckeye stormed to a 7-0 lead with its trademark up-tempo style and looked to have the Wildcats, who played just seven players, outmatched.
But the Bucks went cold in the third period, failing to build on a 12-point lead they sustained early in the quarter thanks to Keystone’s 1-2-2 trap.
That defensive adjustment, the hot shooting of junior Matt Bastock (16 points), who drained four 3-pointers in the final 7:25 of regulation, and the play of Conrad (12) helped the Wildcats get back in the game and force OT.
“The worst part about that is that we worked on (the 1-2-2 trap) all week, but I thought that every possession we had in overtime was a good possession,” Saunders said. “Obviously, Ryan played great down the stretch and we found a way.
“I feel like I keep telling reporters that we find a way. Tonight we were (0-of-9) from the foul line, we had six or seven runouts where we had numbers and didn’t get anything out of those, and they got hot shooting the ball. But I’m happy we found a way.”
|Keystone’s 2012 Division II state championship softball team was honored before the game. The Wildcats were the only team in the state to finish undefeated (32-0) and were the USA Today and MaxPreps national champions.
l Robert Miller had 16 points, but it wasn’t enough as Buckeye’s junior varsity fell 56-43. Nathan Polidori added 13 for the Bucks.
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.
Buckeye 47, Keystone 44 (OT)
BUCKEYE 16 8 9 6 8 — 47
KEYSTONE 10 9 4 16 5 — 44
Buckeye — Garrett Beck 10-0-23, Matt Cox 6-0-12, Jeff Miller 0-0-0, Cory Inman 1-0-2, Ryan Grauel 3-0-6, Chris Vogt 0-0-0, Mike Bacho 0-0-0, John Tighe 0-0-0, Curtis Kinney 2-0-4, Nick Prest 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-0-47.
Keystone — C.J. Conrad 3-6-12, Chase Robinson 1-0-2, Adam Hopkins 4-0-9, Collin Fitzgerald 1-0-2, Brandon Kuhl 1-1-3, Matt Bastock 5-2-16, Austin Conrad 0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-9-44.
3-point goals — Beck 3, Bastock 4, Hopkins. Rebounds — Buckeye 28 (Beck 11), Keystone 39 (C. Conrad 13). Assists — Buckeye 14 (Grauel 5), Keystone 6 (A. Conrad 2). Records — Buckeye (7-3, 5-2), Keystone (4-7, 3-4). Junior varsity — Keystone 56, Buckeye 43.