SHEFFIELD TWP. — It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
After falling behind early against Buckeye, Clearview’s boys basketball team finished with a flurry and downed the Bucks 62-55 in a key Patriot Athletic Conference cross-division matchup on Tuesday.
Clearview needed the win to get back to within a game of .500, while Buckeye missed an opportunity to pull ahead of Firelands in the Stars Division after the Falcons lost to Columbia.
“Tonight, we were good,” Clippers coach John Szalay said. “At Firelands, we were awful and we’ve been like that all year. We have been good at home, though (6-2). Today I thought we just played one of our tougher games and we stuck with it and we battled.”
Buckeye (10-5, 7-4) jumped to a hot start behind Garrett Beck (16 points, 6 rebounds) and led 18-13 with 40 seconds to play in the first quarter.
The Clippers’ Maliek Ivey nailed a jumper at the buzzer, and suddenly the floor began tilting in their direction.
Clearview (7-8, 5-6) methodically chipped away at the deficit and entered the half up 29-28 with Eric Burkey (17 points) leading the charge.
“I thought Burkey played with a lot of confidence today,” Szalay said. “It might have been his best game of the year.”
The junior guard hit his third 3-pointer of the first half to give the Clippers the one-point edge.
“My teammates just gave me the ball and I just created off what they gave me,” Burkey said. “They did a good job setting me screens and getting me open. Basically, it was all them. I just did my part.”
Buckeye came out of the locker room intent on tightening up its defense and limiting turnovers after having 11 in the first half.
Matt Cox (12 points, 6 rebounds) and Jeff Miller (11) scored six points during a 7-4 run to start the second half and pulled the Bucks out in front temporarily at 35-33, but Burkey got the momentum back for the Clippers with consecutive baskets.
“Defensively, we were terrible,” Buckeye coach Matt Saunders said. “There is no other way to describe it. If you’re not going to defend, you’re not going to win. Layup after layup after layup makes the game pretty easy.”
The game remained tight throughout the third quarter and into the fourth, and Daimon Knowles splashed a three to give Clearview the lead for good at 47-44 with 7 minutes left.
Buckeye got to within 54-53 with 2:50 to play on a Miller basket, but Burkey immediately answered with another basket and sent the Clippers on a game-ending 8-2 run.
“We had the ball down one and turned the ball over twice in a row,” Saunders said. “We turn it over twice and they score twice, and a one-point game turns into a five-point game.”
Buckeye got a solid game off the bench from Chris Vogt (9 points, 4 rebounds), while Clippers leading scorer Gerrell Williams struggled but still finished with 10 points and five boards.
Behind 15 points from Jason Young, Clearview took the junior varsity game 60-45. Nick Wills led Buckeye with 13.
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