SHEFFIELDVILLAGE — The Buckeye boys basketball team has made a living out of playing big this season. On Friday, the Bucks clinched at least a share of the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division title by going small.
In a game that was called tighter than a snare drum is strung, Buckeye prevailed 58-35 over Brookside thanks to the little things.
That those little things came from 5-foot-10 Cory Inman, 5-10 Nate Polidori, 6-foot John Tighe and 6-foot Tyler Hagmeier shows just how versatile the Bucks (17-3, 14-1) were against the Cardinals (11-9, 8-6).
With Chris Vogt (13 points, 5 rebounds) and Jeff Miller (4, 6) mired in foul trouble — both fouled out in the middle of the fourth — coach Matt Saunders was forced to put in a lineup he hadn’t toyed with most of the year.
What resulted because of Inman, Hagmeier, Polidori and Tighe was something even Saunders wasn’t expecting. Inman led all scorers with 16 points and five assists. Hagmeier pulled down five rebounds and Polidori and Tighe (8 points) played incredible defense.
“It was really different,” Inman said. “I don’t think we’ve played with that five as a group all year, but you can’t control what happens. You have to step up and play with what you have.
“When we’re small like that, we can get up and down the floor quicker. It’s definitely a benefit to have (Vogt and Miller) on the floor, but we can play a faster game. Knowing we can play without them if we have to is a benefit.”
Garrett Beck (14 points) had his usual solid game for Buckeye, but the harassing style the Bucks played on defense was what turned the game around.
Brookside committed 22 turnovers, including nine in the third quarter, and never was able to get into much of a flow.
“I definitely think it helped (Hagmeier and Polidori),” Saunders said. “It gave them confidence. They came in and we extended the lead.
“Defensively, they might have been better than our normal starters. I couldn’t believe how well we played with that group. Hopefully, it gives us that confidence where if we have to go with that group, we can. Our guards were unbelievable. Cory Inman must have had 25 tips. Everyone who played up top was unbelievable.”
The win gave Buckeye at least a share of the conference for the second time in four seasons. The Bucks won the league in 2011.
The starting five, all seniors, aren’t in a giving mood when it comes to sharing the PAC. Keystone (15-5, 13-2) is still mathematically alive in the Stars Division, but it’s all-or-nothing for the Wildcats, who lost to Buckeye 83-67 on Jan. 10. The teams meet next Friday at Keystone.
“This means a lot,” Beck said. “It was a focal point of our season, but we want to get it outright.
|Buckeye’s junior varsity topped Brookside 59-30. Liam Murray led the way with 15 points, but the sophomore had help as Joey Bartinelli poured in 11 and Bruce Barnby had 10.|
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Buckeye 58, Brookside 35
BUCKEYE 18 14 14 12 — 58
BROOKSIDE 7 10 7 11 — 35
Buckeye — Garrett Beck 5-2-14, Jeff Miller 2-0-4, Chris Vogt 6-1-13, John Tighe 4-0-8, Cory Inman 4-6-16, Tyler Hagmeier 1-0-2, Nate Polidori 0-1-1, Robert Miller 0-0-0, Hayden Roskey 0-0-0, Nick Wills 0-0-0. Totals: 22-10-58
Brookside — Cameron Drew 3-0-7, Mitto Agosto 2-0-4, Kelvin Jones 5-1-11, Dudley Taw 0-0-0, David Rangel 0-0-0, Tyree Jones 2-1-5, Christian Gray 4-0-8, Kenny Pierson 0-0-0, Alex Koltas 0-0-0. Totals: 16-2-35.
3-point goals — Beck 2, Inman 2. Rebounds — Buckeye 22 (Miller 6), Brookside 24 (K. Jones 9). Assists — Buckeye 14 (Inman 5), Brookside 9 (Rangel 4). Records — Buckeye (17-3, 14-1), Brookside (11-9, 8-6). Junior varsity — Buckeye 59, Brookside 30.