ROCKY RIVER — The Buckeye boys basketball team finished strong, but not strong enough to overcome an extremely poor start.
As a result, Lutheran West recorded a 65-50 Patriot Athletic Conference cross-division victory Friday and snapped the Bucks’ 10-game winnings streak.
The win not only was crushing to the Bucks (10-2, 7-1), but it was a giant victory for the Longhorns (9-2, 7-1), who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Lutheran West did so with a devastating half-court and full-court press that forced 11 turnovers in the first quarter and 18 in the first half.
“The bottom line is we came out tentative and a little scared,” Buckeye coach Matt Saunders said. “I have no reason as to why that is. We knew how they wanted to play fast. We knew that if we could handle pressure we could win this game. For whatever reason, we didn’t take it seriously. Obviously, we weren’t up to the task.”
It wasn’t just turnovers in the first quarter, as the Bucks had absolutely no answer for forward Greg Kunze (28 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists).
Kunze went off for 17 points in the first, hitting 5-of-6 3-pointers and adding a couple free throws to make it 21-9 at the end of one.
In essence, the Bucks played Lutheran West even the rest of the way, but the first quarter — and Kunze especially — set the tone.
“My goal is just to get the offense points,” Kunze said. “Shooting the ball was nice when it’s like it was tonight. I have a quick trigger. Whether I hit six straight or miss six straight, I’ll shoot it if it’s there. We played good defense and that led to good offense. We jumped out on them early and you saw what happened.”
No matter what Garrett Beck (22 points, 6 rebounds) or Jeff Miller (16, 13) did to help the Bucks, the Longhorns always had an answer.
The fact Lutheran West went on an 11-1 run to end the first quarter and a 10-2 run to close the second didn’t help matters.
“At the time — we felt like we played well defensively — the ball would bounce around and they’d beat us to the loose ball,” Saunders said. “Loose balls mean more possessions, more possessions mean more points.
“We didn’t get into our half-court offense. We threw the ball all over the place. The first half was as bad as I’ve seen these seniors play, honestly, all throughout their high school careers. Ultimately, we beat ourselves tonight.”
With the loss, the PAC Stars Division tightened back up as Keystone (8-5, 6-2) closed to within a game of the Bucks. While there’s still a ton of basketball left, each conference game now means a little more.
“We’ve talked, win or lose, it’s one game,” Saunders said. “No win is real big, no loss is devastating. Obviously, we have to go back to that.
“We have a huge game at Wadsworth on Tuesday. We’re excited for that. We’ll watch some film and move forward. If we allow this to affect us and erase what we’ve done so far, that’s a mistake.”
|The combined record of the Longhorns’ last four opponents was 40-6 prior to Friday.
Justin Lowry hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Buckeye’s junior varsity over Lutheran West 51-48. Liam Murray led the Bucks with 16 points.
Lutheran West 65, Buckeye 50
BUCKEYE 9 13 9 19 — 50
LUTHERAN WEST 21 16 7 21 — 65
Buckeye — Garrett Beck 8-5-22, Jeff Miller 5-4-16, Chris Vogt 3-0-6, Tyler Hagmeier 0-0-0, Cory Inman 0-0-0-0, John Tighe 2-2-6, Liam Miller 0-0-0, Robert Miller 0-0-0, Mason Stanton 0-0-0. TOTALS: 18-11-50.
Lutheran West — Andrew O’Hara 1-0-2, Greg Kunze 7-8-28, Max Quinn 5-1-11, Peter Koza 2-0-4, Chris Scott 1-1-3, Aaron Beckman 1-1-3, Adam Felton 0-3-3, Joe Peters 2-0-4, Jack Kelsheimer 0-2-2, Nick Knudsen 0-0-0, Nate Roman 1-0-2, Clay Carper 1-0-3. TOTALS: 21-16-65.
3-point goals — Miller 2, Beck, Kunze 6, Carper. Rebounds — Buckeye 32 (Miller 13), Lutheran West 30 (Quinn 7). Assists — Buckeye 9 (Inman 5), Lutheran West 14 (Scott 4). Records — Buckeye (10-2, 7-1), Lutheran West (9-2, 7-1). Junior varsity — Buckeye 41, Lutheran West 48.