Just 24 hours after Kyle Michalo set the a new single-game scoring standard at Buckeye Local, the smooth-shooting senior exploded with 26 second-half points to lead the Panthers to a 73-47 win over Bellaire on the Connorville court Thursday night.
Michalo capped a three-day scoring binge with 88 points in three Panther wins that assured the Buckeye Local quint of its first winning season in 10 years. Michalo tallied 39 in a win over Barnesville on Wednesday and followed that up with a 32-point effort last night.
With the win, coach Jay Morris's Panthers pushed their record to 12-10 in closing out regular season play. They take on Meadowbrook in Sectional action at Ohio University Eastern next Friday. It was a complete turnaround for Morris squad who, just two years ago, finished at 1-20.
Coach J. R. Battista's Big Reds fell to 3-18 on the season and close out the regular campaign with an OVAC consolation pool encounter with Oak Glen in Bellaire tonight. The Big Reds dropped 55-53 nail-bitter to the Panthers on January 11.
"That's really big for us," Morris said. "That was one of our goals this season to have a winning season. The last time we had a winning season here was in 2003. We had to win four of five games in the last seven days and that is just what we did."
"That's the second time this season we played three straight nights," the Panther coach added. "We started to fall behind in the second period, but we challenged the kids at halftime and they came out and played well in the second half."
"They (Buckeye) played well. They shot good and we shot bad," Battista said. "You can't keep missing shots and have them keep making them and expect to win."
Buckeye followed the hot-hand of junior Brennen Czuchran in the first period to jump out to an 18-6 lead. Czuchran tossed in nine points in the session to go with John Rozenek's five and Michalo's four. Bellaire picked up its points on a pair of threes by Nathan Steele.
In the second session, Bellaire came out red-hot outscoring the Panthers by 14-4 to narrow the gap to 22-20. Nick Patrone and Steele led the Big Reds surge. Patrone finished the frame with 12 points. Bellaire was able to close to within 28-25 at the intermission.
Buckeye started to take charge in the third as Michalo tossed in 11 points and Czuchran grabbed four rebounds as the Panthers extended their lead to 43-34 at the third break. Michalo erupted with 15 points in the fourth frame to seal the win.
"I've learned not to force things," Michalo said after capping off his career on the home court. "I just let the game come to me. We are a team and we play well together. I wouldn't want to play on a team with anybody than these guys right here."
Michalo scored 29 from the field as part of his game-high 32 points to go with six assists. Rozenek finished with 16 markers and Czuchran added 11. Rozenek and Czuchran had nine rebounds each.
Patrone paced the Big Reds with 20 points while Steele added 15. On the boards, Steele led the way with five rebounds.
In the jayvee matchup, Buckeye notched a 55-30 win as Tommy Fish and Damion Beall tossed in 11 apiece. Nick Hall led Bellaire with nine.
BELLAIRE (47) - Steele 6, 0-0 15; Ramsay 1, 3-4 5; Kimbro 0, 0-0 0; Callarick 0, 0-0 ; Westlake 1, 0-0 2; Back 0, 0-2 0; Pickens 0, 0-0 0; Kyle Hess 0, 0-0 0; Patrone 8, 4-6 20; Kovalyk 0, 0-0 0; Hall 0, 0-0 0; Kenny Hess 2, 0-0 4; Bentz 0, 1-2 1; Ellison 0, 0-0 0. Totals, 18-59, 8-14. BUCKEYE LOCAL (73) - Marshall 0, 0-0 0; Czuchran 5, 0-0 11; Agnew 1, 0-0 2; Donahue , 0-0 0; Borkoski 1, 0-0 3; Williams 1, 0-0 2; Martin 0, 0-0 0; Duncan 2, 2-2 6; Carducci 0, 1-2 1; Rozenek 6, 4-5 16; Michalo 14, 3-3 32; Pyciak 0, 0-0 0; Hamilton 0, 0-0 0. Totals, 30-52, 10-12.
Three-point goals: Bellaire 3 (Steele 3). Buckeye Local 3 (Czuchran, Borkoski, Michalo).