SULLIVAN TWP. — Much like it always does, the Buckeye boys basketball team was shooting BBs.
More than usual failed to find their target Friday against Black River, but bench and board play were more than enough in a 69-37 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division victory.
“We’re not a very physical team, but I thought we stepped to the plate,” said center Jeff Miller, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds. “This is one of our more physical games, so I was proud from that aspect.”
Missing a boatload of bunnies and layups they normally make, the Bucks (9-3, 6-2) overcame with a healthy 42-27 rebounding advantage and 33 points from backups Mike Bacho (10), John Tighe (career-high 7), Chris Vogt (6, 7 rebounds), Curtis Kinney (5, 4) and Jimmy Vealey, who netted the first five points of his career.
Miller, meanwhile, reached double-double status with 3:09 left in the third quarter before coach Matt Saunders sat his starters the rest of the night.
“We obviously had a size advantage against them,” Saunders said. “On the offensive boards, I thought we did a good job. Defensively there were some stretches where we got lazy, and the foul line was an issue for us (10-of-21).”
After relying on a handful of putbacks to forge a 29-14 halftime lead, Buckeye scored 14 points in less than 4 minutes to open the second half. Miller was at the forefront and finished the third quarter with seven points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Maybe more important, the Bucks got back to their bread and butter of unselfish passing, as Bacho, Vealey, Miller and Matt Cox (7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) dropped dimes while helping Buckeye go up 51-25.
“I thought we played selfish in the first half,” Saunders said. “Guys were worried about getting their own and that sort of thing instead of playing the way we’ve been playing, and that’s typically with a ton of assists.
“The second half we did a much better job of distributing the ball and working for a shot.”
Black River (0-12, 0-8) struggled with turnovers at the outset, but settled down to finish the game with 20. Its highlights were a 7-0 run to begin the fourth quarter and contested buzzer-beating 3-pointers by Zach Sword (game-high 12 points) and Tyler Potter (5, 7 rebounds).
Sophomore guard Anton Hsia (6 points, 9 rebounds) accounted for five of the team’s 11 offensive rebounds, but he was the lone bright spot in that department.
The Pirates also shot just 4-of-24 in the first half when Sword and Potter’s threes were factored out.
“It seems like when these guys want to, they turn it on,” first-year Black River coach Cynthia Berry said. “I think last year is a mental barrier for us. These are boys who work hard and boys who are gutsy. They just choose not to be sometimes, and that’s what’s frustrating. It doesn’t take skill to hit the floor or run the floor or sit down on defense.”
|Inman rolled an ankle with 6:33 left in the second quarter. He returned, but played sparingly.
l Nathan Polidori scored 16 points as Buckeye’s junior varsity won 75-45. Aaron Schmitz had 13 points for the Pirates.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buckeye 69, Black River 37
BUCKEYE 13 16 22 18 — 69
BLACK RIVER 9 5 11 12 — 37
Buckeye — Garrett Beck 4-0-8, Matt Cox 3-0-7, Jeff Miller 4-3-11, Ryan Grauel 3-0-7, Cory Inman 1-0-3, Mike Bacho 4-0-10, Chris Vogt 3-0-6, John Tighe 2-3-7, Nick Prest 0-0-0, Curtis Kinney 1-3-5, Jimmy Vealey 2-1-5. TOTALS: 27-10-69.
Black River — Stephen Zumack 2-0-4, Tyler Potter 2-0-5, Caleb Stiver 1-1-3, Anton Hsia 2-1-6, Zach Sword 5-1-12, Jerod England 1-2-4, Gabe Eaton 1-1-3, Brett Nagy 0-0-0, Allan Benson 0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-6-37.
3-point goals — Bacho 2, Grauel, Inman, Cox, Potter, Hsia, Sword. Rebounds — Buckeye 42 (Miller 11), Black River 27 (Hsia 9). Assists — Buckeye 18 (Inman, Cox 4), Black River 4 (Sword, Benson, Potter, Stiver). Records — Buckeye (9-3, 6-2), Black River (0-12, 0-8). Junior varsity — Buckeye 75, Black River 45.