YORK TWP. — Matt Cox, Curtis Kinney, Nick Prest, Mike Bacho and “Pistol Jim” Vealey are the only seniors on the Buckeye boys basketball team, but they’ve rarely played together in a game.
That changed Tuesday, as they started on senior night and played the entire first period and the bulk of the third as the Bucks cruised to a 77-41 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division win over Black River.
“It was a fun night,” said Kinney, who had eight points and nine rebounds. “Our mindset was not to have a setback tonight.”
There was no danger of that happening, as the Bucks (13-8, 10-6) raced to a 21-3 lead after one quarter, during which their five seniors made no turnovers. With Black River starting the game 1-for-16 from the field, the margin grew to 30-3 midway through the second period.
“It was a blast,” said point guard Jimmy Vealey, whose two points brought his career total to seven, all against the Pirates, and whose fake behind-the-back pass and subsequent layup was the best move of the night, even though he was called for traveling. “The coaches just wanted us to play as hard as we could.”
Buckeye did that, as Bacho, who broke his foot on the second day of tryouts, had a career-high 16 points, while Prest had a career-high 13 points and 11 rebounds. Cox, the only one of the group that normally starts, had eight points before fouling out.
“My physical therapist, (teammate) Cory Inman’s dad (Jay), said, ‘Don’t be afraid to let it fly,’” Bacho said. “Someone had to tell me. I figured I’d get in there and get a few shots up.”
The only thing that kept the evening from being perfect for the Bucks was Firelands’ 48-46 victory over Brookside, which prevented Buckeye from earning a share of the Stars Division title.
Despite that, there were smiles all around for the Bucks, who also got 10 points off the bench from Garrett Beck.
“It’s almost surreal,” Bacho said. “I’m playing with a group of guys I grew up with, but I don’t think there was one time we all played together. It was nice.”
Black River (0-22, 0-16), which played respectably after digging itself the gigantic early hole, became the first Medina County basketball team to lose 22 games in a season and ran its overall losing streak to 42, which is also believed to be a county record.
“Sometimes they get into this defensive mode,” coach Cynthia Berry said of her players. “Not winning hurts. Winning is a habit and losing is a habit.”
The Pirates, who played well in weekend losses to Firelands (49-37) and South Central (54-50), got 13 points from freshman point guard Allan Benson, who was 0-for-5 from the field in the first half and 5-for-5 in the second, eight points, four rebounds and four assists from shooting guard Zach Sword and seven points off the bench from Jerod England.
Black River was 14-for-44 from the field (.318) and 11-for-28 at the line (.393).
“We’re better than that,” Berry said. “It’s just a matter of getting out of this mentality.”
Robert Miller (17), Nathan Polidori (14) and Nick Wills (11) scored in double figures as the Buckeye junior varsity downed Black River 69-55. Logan Goff and Gabe Eaton had 11 apiece for the Pirates.
The Bucks won the freshman game 37-29 behind 10 points from Liam Murray. Kyle Petruzzi had eight for Black River.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.