YORK TWP. — The atmosphere at the Buckeye boys basketball team’s 68-41 non-league win over Cloverleaf can be summarized in one sentence.
The loudest cheer Tuesday night came when the Colts’ student section chanted “Academic Chall-enge” in response to “Let’s go bowl-ing.”
Cloverleaf doesn’t have a bowling team, but its Academic Challenge squad is the two-time defending Medina County champion.
Other than that, unheralded point guard Cory Inman kept the Bucks interested in a game that was all but decided after the first quarter.
“We’re not going to get as amped up as we are to play teams like Lutheran West and Wadsworth,” Inman said. “In these games, we have to make sure we come in and take care of business with that same intensity. If we don’t do that, games like Firelands (a 60-50 win) and Wellington (51-44) happen.”
Buckeye (10-1), which won its school-record 10th straight game, had plenty of distractions. It is finals week, a huge Patriot Athletic Conference crossover game with Lutheran West (8-1, 6-1) is Friday and the Bucks are definitely looking forward to the school’s first all-time matchup with Wadsworth (5-4) — a Division I school twice their size — early next week.
The lack of focus wasn’t evident early, as Buckeye roared to a 33-16 halftime lead. There were hiccups early in the third, though, until Inman (career-high 15 points, 5 assists) scored nine points and motivated his team emotionally to commence the Bucks’ bench clearing just 45 seconds into the fourth.
“At halftime we’re up (17 points), and it’s tough to get that energy back up,” Inman said. “I feel like it’s my job to inject that energy into us and make sure we keep that same intensity the entire game.”
Buckeye power forward Jeff Miller had another yeoman effort with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Garrett Beck scored 10 of his 14 points in the first 4:20 and surpassed 800 career points, shooting guard Tyler Hagmeier contributed a career-high 10 points and center Chris Vogt had eight points and nine rebounds.
The finish was as strong as the start, too, as the backup five of Nate Polidori, Robert Miller, Mason Stanton, Hayden Roskey and Nick Wills outscored Cloverleaf’s starters until the Colts went to their backups midway through the fourth.
“We played more aggressive,” Inman said. “We made it a point to come out, play hard and play faster.”
Cloverleaf (1-11) was led by center Dillon Mullins, who had his second straight double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Shooting guard Braedon Hansen scored five of his team-high 11 points in the fourth, while power forward Troy Kapeluck had nine rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The Colts were content with chucking from 3-point range against Buckeye’s 2-3 zone early and fell into a hole. They later had seven turnovers in the deciding third quarter, all coming after cutting a 20-point deficit to within comeback distance.
“It came down to we needed to penetrate more,” coach Marty Ryan said. “It’s fundamentals. We stopped boxing out (Buckeye had 15 offensive rebounds) and they got putbacks and, again, turnovers (19).”
Former Buckeye players Matt Cox and Joe Galaszewski, Beck’s brother-in-law, were in attendance.
• Liam Murray scored 15 points as Buckeye’s junior varsity pulled away to win 51-40. Michael Martin had 15 points for the winless Colts.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.