Buckeye Local tops Red Riders

RAYLAND – Three Panthers combined for 59 of Buckeye Local’s 66 points as they celebrated Senior Night with a 66-53 win over Weir Friday night.

A winner over Bellaire earlier in the week, coach Greg Haberfield’s Panthers boosted their record to 6-13 with its second win over the Red Riders.

Buckeye is back in action on Tuesday hosting John Marshall in the first of two OVAC pool play games. The Panthers follow that with a make-up game with Harrison Central and their second OVAC Pool matchup at Toronto Friday.

Coach Mike Granato’s young Red Riders fell to 1-11 on the season. They return to the hardwood tonight to take on Harrison Central and following that with back-to-back three-game weeks.

“This was a team win tonight,” Haberfield said. “Everyone played tonight and everyone had a chance to see some action.”

Haberfield expressed his satisfaction in the fact that his team has held together well during the season and has developed great team chemistry.

“The first half we struggled with our defense, but at the half we talked a lot about what we had to do defensively and they did a much better job in the second half,” he added. “They came out in a zone and that made us get a bit sluggish in the first half, but we adjusted.

“It’s nice having a steady lead like we did tonight, but you have to keep your foot on the gas pedal. We had an 18-point lead at Edison and let them come back. We weren’t going to let that happen again.”

Even in defeat, Granato was impressed by his team’s play.

“The kids played hard tonight and you can’t fault them for the effort they put forth tonight,” he said.

“We play as hard as we can. We didn’t play quite as smart as we can tonight, but you couldn’t get a better effort from our kids than we did tonight.”

Granato was also impressed with the play of Buckeye Local’s Brennen Czuchran.

“Czuchran is the kind of player that makes everyone around him play so much better and that’s what a great player does,” said Granato.

With Czuchran somewhat stymied as a scorer in the first half, he was instrumental in setting up his teammates. Jonathan Borkoski, Ryan Moffo and Dylan Dokes each chipped in with a two and three-pointer in the opening session as Buckeye led by 17-15 at the break.

In the second frame, Czuchran was again limited to a pair of foul conversions, but the Panthers found scoring punch from another source. Dokes was red-hot in the frame cashing five shots from the field as the Panthers opened a 34-24 upperhand at the intermission.

Buckeye extended its lead in the third to 50-30 as Czuchran work free to toss in eight points and Borkoski added six. The hosts limited the Red Riders to three buckets in the period.

Czuchran closed with a game-high 22 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists. Dokes closed out the night with 19 markers while Borkoski finished with 18 and seven boards.

Mitch Viakley played well on both ends of the floor and finished with a team-high 14 for Weir to go with six boards. Wood ended with 13 and Curtis had eight.