SULLIVAN TWP. — Everything was working against Black River’s boys basketball team Friday night.
The Pirates were playing without a starter, who is likely done for the season with a broken leg, trailed by 14 points in the second half and hadn’t won a Patriot Athletic Conference game since 2011.
All those things didn’t matter, as the Pirates rallied to beat Wellington 51-49 in front of a packed crowd to end a 38-game PAC skid.
“We worked real hard for this one,” said senior center Tyler Potter, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. “It’s kind of fun to come out here and surprise people. We walk out and other teams’ student sections boo us, and it’s fun being the underdog.”
Black River (2-7, 1-5), which hadn’t won a PAC game since beating the Dukes on Feb. 11, 2011, faced a 40-26 deficit midway through the third quarter, but cut it to seven by the end of the period and outscored the Dukes (1-10, 0-6) 22-9 in the fourth.
The Pirates were without the services of senior small forward Stephen Zumack, who injured his leg over the holiday break and needed 48 stitches.
“Wow, that’s about it,” junior guard Alex McIntyre said of the comeback. “We all played hard. Sometimes we had moments to shine and other times we were down, but we came back. We had to keep our heads up and just keep going.”
A team that snapped a Medina County-record 49-game losing streak just a week ago now has won two of its last three.
“Everything has been against these kids the last two years,” interim coach Josh Calame said. “Injuries, losing, the losing ‘streak’ and then starting to react to that. They know how to react to that now because not only in games have they been down, but as a program and as players.
“It’s a credit to these kids. We kept telling them that they were a couple stops away from being right in it, and all of a sudden they realized they were in it and made plays.”
With a little more than three minutes left and Wellington holding a 47-41 lead, Black River started to chip away.
Allan Benson (13 points) and Curtis Roupe drew fouls and made free throws. After two defensive stops, McIntyre (10) had a baseline drive for a layup in traffic to tie the game with 50 seconds left.
It was a crucial play from a guard that sat most of the first half with pain in his knee.
“I’ve never seen that out of him,” Calame said of McIntyre’s drive. “I don’t know if he was just not thinking about it and just did it, but it was a gutsy move. I’m pretty sure, 99.9 percent sure, that he’s never been in that situation before.”
Dukes guard Joey Holliday hit a running lay-in to take the lead back with 35 seconds remaining. Potter then split a pair of free throws and stole the inbounds pass on the next possession to set up McIntire getting to the free throw line.
It was a key foul, as Wellington standout guard Dylan Kidd, who managed just 12 points against Black River’s box-and-one defense, was sent to the bench.
“I just channeled my inner all-state cornerback,” Potter said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Two hands, bring it down.’
“I thought once Kidd fouled out, though, that it was our game. He’s the heart and soul of their team.”
McIntire calmly stepped up and sank both charity tosses to give the Pirates the 50-49 lead — its first since leading 13-12 in the first quarter.
“I pretty much just reacted,” he said. “Coach always tells us in practice, ‘Foul shots, foul shots, foul shots’ and, hey, it came through tonight.”
Potter then rebounded a Holliday miss, got fouled and split a pair of free throws. Then, with 3.1 seconds, he deflected a floater as time expired.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Dukes, who built the double-figure lead in the third behind Chase Bealer (18 points).
“We just quit executing,” Dukes coach Dan Gundert said. “Everyone wanted to do everything on their own and had a ton of turnovers, some costly ones down the stretch. (Black River) outplayed us in the final two minutes and wanted it more than us.”
As the final horn sounded, the Pirates jumped up and down in celebration, their fans staying until well after the game to congratulate each player
Most importantly, the Pirates got to run out to the victory bell in front of their school and ring it.
“When we got down 14, we took a timeout and said, ‘You’re going to get back in it by getting stops, rebounds and getting good buckets,’” Calame said. “That’s what we did. We just chipped away and chipped away and all of a sudden we got it to one possession. It fell right into our hands.
“I’ve said since Day 1 that I’ve been proud of these guys and how hard they’ve been working. We’ve been trying to get it instilled in them that, at some point, it’s going to pay off. You could see that tonight.”
|The rowdy Black River student section featured a sign that said , “This is nut your game,” referring to the resemblance of the Dukes mascot to the world famous Planters logo “Mr. Peanut.”
Wellington scored five unanswered points in the final minute to win the junior varsity game 25-21. A Colin Kmitt three-point play with 14 seconds left erased a 21-20 deficit. Teammate Robbie Bliss canned a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the win. Kmitt finished with a game-high 12 points, while Derek Hawley had 11 for the Pirates.
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.
Black River 51, Wellington 49
WELLINGTON 14 17 9 9 — 49
BLACK RIVER 13 11 9 22 — 51
Wellington — Dylan Kidd 3-4-12, Joey Holliday 3-0-6, Adam Berry 2-0-5, Trey Bealer 1-0-2, Chase Bealer 6-5-18, Matt Bullock 1-0-2, Bryce Gibbs 0-0-0, Jacob Miller 1-0-2, JuJuan Howard 0-2-2, Daryn Broadwater 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-11-49.
Black River — Logan Goff 3-0-7, Curtis Roupe 2-2-6, Tyler Potter 4-5-13, Alex McIntyre 3-4-10, Allan Benson 4-3-13, Dylan Lewis 1-0-2, Glen Crabtree 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-14-51.
3-point goals — Kidd 2, C. Bealer, Berry, Benson 2, Goff. Rebounds — Wellington 32 (Berry 6), Black River 23 (Potter 8). Assists — Wellington 8 (Kidd 3), Black River 6 (Benson 3). Records — Wellington (1-10, 0-6), Black River (2-7, 1-5). Junior varsity — Wellington 25, Black River 21.