COLUMBIA TWP. — One thing is for certain: The Black River boys basketball team doesn’t quit.
Behind a career-best performance from senior Tyler Potter, the Pirates nearly erased one of the biggest deficits they’ve faced in recent weeks before Columbia responded to earn a 59-41 Patriot Athletic Conference crossover victory.
“It’s their effort and intensity,” Black River coach Josh Calame said. “I thought we lacked some of that at the beginning of the night, and we got down early and climbed back in it. We challenged them at halftime and they sure answered it.”
Leading by 26 points heading into the fourth quarter, the Stripes Division-leading Raiders went into a victory formation of sorts, pulling four starters.
That’s when Potter went to work.
The burly senior sparked a 14-0 run to start the fourth, cutting the deficit to 48-36 with a little more than 3 minutes left. That forced Columbia coach Larry Babics to put his starters back in and close things out.
“Give Black River credit. They played extremely hard,” Babics said. “They did a good job of cranking up the intensity and kept chipping away to the point where it was like, ‘Well, we better get those starters back in there to bring it home.”’
Potter found a way to get the Pirates back in it en route to pouring in a career-high 28 points, along with ripping down a game-high 12 rebounds.
He did it in a variety of ways. Whether it was a back-to-the-basket post move, putback or even a 3-pointer — he canned 2-of-3 tries — the center was everywhere on the floor.
Potter had his team’s first 11 points as the Raiders led 27-11 in the second before pushing the lead to 20 at halftime. Columbia continued that pace when Black River starters Allan Benson and Curtis Roupe got in foul trouble in the second half.
“He was phenomenal,” Calame said of Potter. “We usually try to get him the ball early to try and get him going and he got going. We had to go to him a lot, and down the stretch he was the one scoring. We ran every play in the book to get him the ball and he was answering the call, so he got us back in the game.”
Columbia proved why it is in position to defend its PAC Stripes Division crown.
Sophomore forward David Delahunty was key in a 10-3 spurt that helped put the Raiders up for good, canning a 3-pointer on his first possession back on the floor and then, after a basket by teammate Michael Boey, adding a steal and layup and then a drive for a score to finish with 15 points.
Brandon Severo led Columbia with 16 points — 14 in the first half — while fellow senior Jay Banyasz had six steals and seven rebounds running the show at the point.
|The Raiders coughed the ball up seven times in the fourth quarter against the Pirates’ diamond-and-one press. Black River finished with 22 miscues.
Pirates sophomore Derek Hawley had seven points, but a big fourth quarter propelled Columbia’s junior varsity to a 42-22 victory. The Raiders are piloted by former Buckeye girls coach Al Mielcarek.
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Columbia 59, Black River 41
BLACK RIVER 7 10 5 19 — 41
COLUMBIA 15 22 11 11 — 59
Black River — Logan Goff 1-1-3, Curtis Roupe 2-1-5, Tyler Potter 11-4-28, Alex McIntyre 0-0-0, Allan Benson 2-0-5, Dylan Lewis 0-0-0, Glen Crabtree 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-6-41.
Columbia — Brandon Severo 5-2-16, David Delahunty 5-3-15, Kevin Simon 4-0-9, Michael Boey 2-2-6, Jay Banyasz 1-0-2, Brian Hershey 3-1-9, Josh Gibson 1-0-2, Cody Shields 0-0-0, Frank Pihoker 0-0-0, John Fetchet 0-0-0, Justin Tacchite 0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-8-59.
3-point goals — Potter 2, Benson, Severo 4, Delahunty 2, Hershey 2, Simon. Rebounds — Black River 36 (Potter 12), Columbia 29 (Banyasz 7). Assists —Black River 5 (Goff 2), Columbia 13 (Banyasz 6). Records — Black River (2-10, 1-7), Columbia (11-2, 7-1). Junior varsity —Columbia 42, Black River 22.