The Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division championship is likely out of the picture, but that hasn’t stopped the Buckeye girls basketball team from playing motivated.
The senior-laden Bucks (7-9, 7-4) have won five of their last six games behind a defense that has allowed just 41.3 points. Coupled with Keystone losing seven of its last nine, Buckeye will enter a game at Wellington on Saturday with two-win lead on second place in the division.
Firelands (11-5, 10-1) is two wins away from clinching a share of the crown.
“After we started 2-8 I said, ‘Our goal is to finish 500,”’ coach Randy Haury said. “We’re going to take one game at a time and play hard no matter what the score is.
“They’re feeding off each other. I haven’t seen this many happy faces at practice all year.”
While four of its five wins during the recent hot streak have been against inferior competition, Buckeye’s 47-42 victory Saturday at Clearview shook up the PAC. The Clippers (11-4, 9-4) are now clinging to a one-game lead over Fairview and Lutheran West in the Stripes Division because of it.
Leading the charge has been the inside-out senior combination of Jessica Banas and Hannah Hartley.
Physical center Banas has been red hot over the last four games with 11.5 points and 12.5 rebounds, while athletic point guard Hartley has scored 18, 18 and 11 points since a 1-of-9 shooting performance in a loss to Cloverleaf.
Forwards Sara Dash and Katie Kelly, guard Julia Sekerak and backup Jordan Davis also have posted strong scoring games in a supporting role, giving the Bucks the efficient balance they had been trying to obtain.
“It’s been a total team effort,” Haury said. “Everyone is stepping up.”
Five of the Bucks’ final six regular-season opponents entered Thursday with losing records, meaning a winning season — something that seemed implausible after a 2-8 start — is a realistic possibility.
Brunswick (12-5, 3-2)
The Blue Devils have surrendered less than 10 points in the third quarter in four of the last five games.
l Following Saturday’s game at Strongsville (6-9, 0-5), Brunswick closes the regular season with Northeast Ohio Conference River Division opponents Elyria (10-5), Mayfield (9-6), Medina (12-4) and North Royalton (8-6). Those four teams have a combined 39-21 record.
l Thursday’s win over Brecksville gave the Blue Devils an eight-game winning streak for the first time since 2006-07.
Cloverleaf (6-10, 2-7)
Center Briona Burgos has been shooting the ball at a torrid pace lately. The sophomore was 5-of-6 against Nordonia and 3-of-4 against Wadsworth.
l Forward Emily Civittolo will miss at least another week with an elbow injury. The junior is the team’s second-leading scorer at 8.2 points.
Highland (10-6, 5-4)
Entering Thursday’s game against Revere, the Hornets were allowing 39.3 points in victories and 59.4 in losses.
l Odd trend of the Medina County season: Highland is 4-1 when its deep bench scores less than 10 points.
Medina (12-4, 5-0)
Sarah Kinch’s 13.9 scoring average is on pace to be the best by a Bees player since Melissa Pfeister posted 15.5 in 1998-99.
l Medina is 6-0 when All-NOC River Division point guard Angela Tesny scores at least eight points.
Wadsworth (14-2, 9-0)
A 20-point loss to Fairmont at the Classic in the Country on Sunday was the Grizzlies’ worst since falling 80-56 to Toledo Central Catholic at the Mason Holiday Classic on Dec. 30, 2004.
l Five of Wadsworth’s final six games are on the road, where the Grizzlies haven’t lost since Dec. 28, 2011 (47-45 to Midpark).
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.