BELLAIRE - Buckeye Local and Bellaire played toe-to-toe for 24 minutes Tuesday night.
The other 8 minutes? Well, let's just say the Panthers were let loose inside the ''House of Champions.''
Buckeye Local broke open a tie game at halftime with a 28-11 scoring explosion in the third quarter en route to a 74-62 triumph.
BELLAIRE’S Sterling Wright (14) drives to the basket as Buckeye Local’s Jonathan Borkoski defends Tuesday night in Bellaire.
''We've been really battling hard these last couple of games,'' Panthers head coach Greg Haberfield said following the Buckeye 8 boys' basketball tilt.
''We've had a tough time putting together a good second half. We've been playing well in the first and coming out flat in the second.''
That all changed Tuesday night.
How? There were numerous factors at play. Bellaire head coach J.R. Battista pointed to the Panthers' hot shooting.
''They made their shots and we didn't,'' he said. ''It's that simple. It's called basketball for a reason. You have to put the ball in the basket.''
Buckeye Local did it often during the third quarter. The Panthers dropped in nine field goals during the period, including four of the team's five 3-pointers on the night.
''Those 3s just broke our backs,'' Battista said. ''That third quarter killed us.''
Brennan Czuchran poured in nine of his team-high 16 points during the quarter. But he had plenty of help.
Jon Borkoski scored seven of his 13 points in the quarter, including a pair of 3s.
''We kept our foot on the gas pedal,'' Haberfield said. ''I'm really impressed. We had five guys on the floor playing together. We shared the ball.
''With five guys on the floor playing well everyone got a piece of the scoring, and that's nice to see. It was a team win and I'm proud of them.''
Dylan Dokes didn't score during the pivotal third for the Panthers (5-12), but he was a huge factor in the first, scoring eight of Buckeye Local's first 10 points. He finished with 14.
The Panthers held the lead until the Big Reds (7-10) went on a 7-0 run to grab a 21-19 advantage midway through the second period. Kenny Hess, who finished with 10 points, capped the surge with three.
Bellaire went ahead 27-24 before the Panthers scored the final three points of the half.
''Then, in the second half, we decided to step up our defense,'' Haberfield said. ''They were getting a lot of backdoor cuts and backscreens ... we were not switching and communicating.''
The Big Reds had their opportunities in the third, they just didn't come as easily.
''We missed a lot of easy shots early and we could've built a lead, but they made the plays they had to make and we didn't make enough,'' Battista said.
Michael Neil paced Bellaire with 18 points, while Ty Ramsay added 11.
Buckeye Local returns to action Friday night against Weir at home for Senior Night. Bellaire, meanwhile, visits No.1-ranked Union Local on Thursday.
Bellaire won the junior varsity game, 54-41.
BL - Donahue 3 0-0 7; Czuchran 5 6-7 16; Dehnhart 0 0-0 0; Borkoski 4 2-4 13; Moffo 4 6-7 15; Beall 2 5-6 9; Dokes 5 4-6 14. Totals 23 23-30 74.
B - Steele 3 0-0 9; Ramsay Callarik 2 0-0 4; Westlake 3 0-0 6; Ke.Hess 4 2-5 10; Neil 6 6-7 18; Eden 1 2-2 4. Totals 24 11-16 62.
3-Point Goals: Borkoski 3, Donahue, Moffo; Steele 3.
Thorp can be reached at email@example.com