July 1, 2016

Partly cloudy

Boys basketball: Wacky finish to winless season for Black River

WOOSTER — Glen Crabtree made a name for himself Monday in his Black River varsity basketball debut.

It wasn’t entirely the right name, but it was probably the best news that came out of the winless Pirates’ 53-32 loss to Orrville in opening-round play at the Wooster Division III Sectional.

Black River's Allan Benson drives around Orrville's Bryce Short during the first quarter. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

Crabtree, a sophomore, stepped on the floor in the closing minutes and wasn’t shy about jacking up 3-pointers, making two of his three attempts to finish with six points, which would have accounted for one-third of Black River’s offense through three periods.

That Andrew Vaughn, who missed the entire season due to a wrist injury, got credit from the public address announcer for the 3-pointers did not detract from No. 52’s first varsity hoops.

“The kid couldn’t hit an 8-foot shot four months ago,” Black River coach Cynthia Berry said. “He’s a coachable kid who will do anything you ask.”

Those are the kind of baby steps Berry knows her program has to continue to make after finishing her first season 0-23. The Pirates, who got eight points apiece from senior shooting guard Zach Sword and junior power forward Tyler Potter, now have a Medina County-record 43-game losing streak overall.

“I don’t know if they totally understand the work it takes to be successful,” Berry said. “Basketball players are built in the summer. They’ve got to realize that.”

Coming in, the Pirates thought they had a chance to compete with struggling Orrville (6-17), going so far as to drive to Wooster for a 2-hour practice Saturday to familiarize themselves with the floor.

That theory went out the window immediately, as the Red Riders used full-court pressure to zip to a 16-2 lead in the first 3:50 of the game.

Orrville played nice the rest of the evening, but still led 31-13 at halftime and 49-18 after three quarters before the Pirates won the fourth period 14-4.

“We got to get everybody on the floor,” Red Riders coach Sly Slaughter said. “We had a lot of kids who hadn’t been on a tournament floor. Our goal tonight was to come out and play hard, get a victory and get our first-game jitters out.”

Mission accomplished, as Orrville got 16 points, four rebounds and three assists from small forward Alexander Smith, 10 points from shooting guard Jonathan Landis, six points and seven boards from center Luke Smith and five points and nine rebounds off the bench from Kayronn Robinson.

The Red Riders were a not-very-good 19-for-59 from the field (.322) and 11-for-22 at the line, but that was way more than enough against the Pirates, who were 13-for-43 from the floor (.302) and 3-for-7 at the stripe. Orrville also had a 46-21 edge on the boards.

“It wasn’t our best effort,” Berry said.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.