YORK TWP. — Garrett Beck walked out of the locker room Saturday following the Buckeye boys basketball team’s 82-52 win over Firelands in the Westlake Division II Sectional finals with the game ball under his arm.
There is no special trophy case for that special ball. Its life will remain, well, lively.
“I’m going to play with it,” Beck said. “I’ve never had a ball this nice.”
Bucks coach Matt Saunders willingly gave up a $60 piece of equipment, as Beck became the 27th documented player in Medina County history to reach 1,000 career points.
The top-seeded Bucks (21-3), who won just their third sectional title in 61 seasons and first since 1993, (21-3) advance to face No. 5 Vermilion (17-7), a 45-39 upset winner over third-seeded Keystone, at Westlake on Wednesday.
“I’m going to remember this night for the rest of my life, honestly,” Beck said.
Beck (21 points, 7 rebounds) was aware he entered play with 979 points. The 6-foot-2 small forward began slowly, but scored seven points during a backbreaking 16-0 Buckeye run in the third quarter.
More history was in store for the three-year starter once he swished the 100th 3-pointer of his 69-game career late in the period. Another three early in the fourth set up the moment with 3:17 remaining in the game.
Standing at the left elbow-extended, the senior took a pass from Cory Inman, drove to the middle of the lane and unleashed his signature shot — a short-armed floater with his right hand — from just inside the foul line.
The heady crowd erupted in delight, and the student section chanted “Gair-ret Beh-eck” and “That’s a thous-and” when he exited the game 16 seconds later.
“Down the stretch, we were up by, like, 25-30 points and I knew we were going to walk away with the win anyways,” Beck said while receiving a huge bear hug from Inman. “I just wanted to get (1,000) at home. I was going to put up some shots to get it.
“Coach actually told my teammates I was nearing 1,000, and (Inman) had my back both times. He had two good assists to me. I knew I was going to knock them down.”
Beck’s shining star was just one of many for the Bucks just 18 days after drilling the Falcons 86-62 in Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division play.
The normal scoring balance was at the forefront, as power forward Jeff Miller (14 points, 10 rebounds), center Chris Vogt (12, 4 steals, 3 blocks), shooting guard John Tighe (11) and backup guard Nate Polidori (career-high 12) all reached double digits. Inman added nine assists while committing just one turnover.
Buckeye, which led just 38-28 midway through the third quarter, finished 33-for-56 (.589) from the floor and 12-for-15 (.750) from the foul line.
“It’s one step at a time,” Saunders said. ”Obviously, we want to put the first district championship (banner) up here, but you’ve gotta get a sectional first. It’s a building block and it’s step toward that.”
A ladder was set up underneath the north basket for a championship tradition after the game. The student section that surrounded the players knew who they wanted to cut the net first.
“All the seniors knew it was their last game on their home court,” he said. “We knew what it meant, and we wanted it so bad. We all played harder than them.”
Beck is third on the school’s career scoring list behind Garth Wurstle (1,082, 1978-81) and Hank Frambach (1,025, 1954-58).
• The Bucks have never reached the district finals. The 1988, ’89 and ’93 teams lost to Olmsted Falls (62-49), Cleveland Central Catholic (77-41) and Hoban (77-52) in the semis.
• Buckeye will carry a 13-game home win streak into next season.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.