WESTLAKE — The Buckeye boys basketball team started the season on fire and fizzled towards the end.
The opposite held true in the Westlake Division II Sectional finals Friday, as it started slowly but ended with a flurry. The clock beat the sixth-seeded Bucks to the finish and their comeback fell short in a 64-53 loss to No. 8 Bay.
Buckeye (13-10) was hampered 7-of-24 shooting in the first half. Coupled with 50-percent shooting for the Rockets (12-12), the Bucks quickly found themselves trailing by 10.
Things could have been worse if not for 10 points from junior forward Garrett Beck.
“At times we were doing some things well, but we just couldn’t catch up,” disappointed coach Matt Saunders said. “As (Bay) got up, they never looked back.”
The Rockets featured twin towers in 6-foot-6 Scott Rapps (12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks), and 6-4 Sam Strauss (8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks). They wreaked havoc on smaller counterparts Jeff Miller (7 points) and Matt Cox (8 points), who were a combined 2-of-10 shooting in the first half.
“We had to settle for a lot of tough shots because we couldn’t get to the hoop,” Saunders said. “We had good post entries, but we just couldn’t finish.
“They got some easy looks. When we’d be attacking, they got some easy leak-outs down the floor.”
Buckeye tried to turn up the heat with a tenacious full-court press. It was a little too aggressive, as the Bucks committed several fouls that allowed the Rockets to make 10-of-12 free throws to pull ahead by 18 at the end of the third.
Fortunes turned for Buckeye, as it regained composure. The result was a 9-0 run that cut a 20-point deficit to 11, but it was too little, too late.
“It’s really easy to mail it in, especially with a lot of young guys on the floor,” Saunders said. “They just kept competing and down the stretch we cut into it a bit, but no matter what happened, it was going to be tough to come back from that deficit. I was proud that our kids didn’t quit.”
Contact Rich Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.