YORK TWP. — Free throws are often “costly” throws for the Keystone and Buckeye boys basketball teams.
They were more costly for the Wildcats on Friday night, as they fell 51-50 in Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division action.
Keystone (9-12, 8-7), which was mathematically eliminated from the division race with the loss, went 12-for-26 at the stripe, including 5-for-14 in the fourth quarter. That’s not anything new, though, as the Wildcats are hitting about 50 percent as a team for the season.
“It’s been our problem all year,” coach Jeff Holzhauer said. “We’re not a great shooting team. Our free throw shooting is a reflection of that.”
Buckeye (12-8, 9-6), which stayed a game back of division-leading Firelands with one league game to play, is just a 54 percent shooting team at the line on the season, but made 15-for-19 against Keystone.
“That was our advantage for one night,” quipped coach Matt Saunders.
It almost ended up costing the Bucks, though. They made their first 12 attempts and 14 of their first 15, then went 1-for-4 over the last 22 seconds, finally securing victory when power forward Jeff Miller blocked Adam Hopkins’ last-second shot from the left block.
After Miller (9 points, 10 rebounds) hit a pair from the line to put the Bucks up 50-48 with 1:58 to go, Keystone ran a lot of clock before center Chase Robison (12 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists) missed in the lane and the ball went out of bounds to Buckeye with 49.9 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Buckeye went into a stall, but Keystone’s Brandon Kuhl (16 points, 5 rebounds) cut in front of a pass near half court and raced to the hoop, only to miss a semi-contested layup.
Cory Inman rebounded and was fouled with 21.8 ticks on the clock, splitting a pair to put the Bucks up 51-48.
Kuhl then took a great pass from C.J. Conrad and scored inside while being fouled with 14.0 seconds left, but failed to tie the game when he missed the Wildcats’ last free throw attempt of the night.
The Bucks’ Ryan Grauel then missed two free throws with 12.9 seconds remaining, with Keystone pushing the ball up the floor and calling its last timeout with 5 seconds on the clock.
When play resumed, the 6-foot-4 Hopkins inbounded to Austin Conrad, who quickly passed to Kuhl, who dished back to the left-handed Hopkins on the left block, where Buckeye’s 6-3 Miller came up with the block.
“We wanted our big lefty to get the ball going left on that side of the hoop,” Holzhauer said. “We wanted to get a little better rub on the screen, but he did what he could.”
After Miller’s block, the ball went out of bounds to Buckeye with 0.0 on the clock, but the buzzer had not sounded. Following a discussion, the officials ruled the Bucks had to inbound, which they did, only to have the horn still not sound when Inman caught the ball. Finally, after another delay, it was decided the game was over.
Matt Cox led Buckeye with 13 points, while Garrett Beck was perfect on eight free throws en route to 10 points, five boards and two assists.
Equally important, reserves Mike Bacho (7) and John Tighe (6) combined for 11 of their 13 points in the first half as the Bucks raced to a 29-16 lead midway through the second quarter. Buckeye, however, went into its customary slump at that point and the Wildcats went on a 10-2 run to make it 31-26 at intermission.
“That’s cost us some games this season,” Saunders said. “At least tonight we found a way to gut it out down the stretch.”
Keystone extended its run to 17-4 to pull even at 33 early in the third quarter. The teams then exchanged 6-0 spurts before Buckeye scored four in a row to start the fourth period. The Wildcats had one last 6-0 run in them, going up 46-45 when Hopkins made both ends of the one-and-one with 4:08 to play, but their free throw woes ultimately proved costly.
C.J. Conrad, a talented 6-4 sophomore who was in the middle of a lot of the action while functioning as a point guard on offense and playing down low on defense, was 4-for-13 at the stripe, including 3-for-11 in the fourth quarter. He finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
“We’d get right back into it and then, bam, they’d go on runs,” Holzhauer said. “Give Buckeye credit. That’s as tired as our guys have been all year.”
|Close games between the Bucks and Wildcats are nothing new. Buckeye won the first meeting 47-44 in overtime.
l The Bucks host winless Black River on Tuesday. Assuming they win, they will need Firelands to lose to Brookside to gain a share of the Stars Division title.
l Nathan Polidori had 13 points, Robert Miller had 12 and Tyler Hagmeier had 11 as the Buckeye junior varsity defeated Keystone 53-48. The Wildcats got 15 from K.J. Williams, who played the majority of the second half of the varsity game, and 10 from Jacob Miller.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com.
Buckeye 51, Keystone 50
KEYSTONE 10 16 13 11 — 50
BUCKEYE 20 11 8 12 — 51
Keystone — Adam Hopkins 0-2-2, C.J. Conrad 2-4-8, Chase Robison 4-4-12, Brandon Kuhl 7-2-16, Matt Bastock 2-0-5, Collin Fitzgerald 1-0-2, Austin Conrad 1-0-3, K.J. Williams 1-0-2. TOTALS: 18-12-50.
Buckeye — Matt Cox 5-2-13, Jeff Miller 3-3-9, Chris Vogt 1-0-2, Garrett Beck 1-8-10, Cory Inman 1-2-4, Mike Bacho 3-0-7, Ryan Grauel 0-0-0, John Tighe 3-0-6, Curtis Kinney 0-0-0, Nick Prest 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-15-51.
3-point goals — Bastock, A. Conrad, Cox, Bacho. Rebounds — Keystone 30 (Robison 9), Buckeye 26 (Miller 10). Assists — Keystone 10 (Bastock 4), Buckeye 5 (Beck, Inman 2). Records — Keystone (9-12, 8-7), Buckeye (12-8, 9-6). Junior varsity — Buckeye 53, Keystone 48.