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Second-half run sparks Buckeye past IC, 46-39

WINTERSVILLE — The Buckeye Local boys basketball team shook off a shaky start and rallied for a 46-39 victory against Buckeye North rival Indian Creek Tuesday night.

The Panthers trailed 23-9 in the second before ripping off a 23-5 spurt to take a 32-28 lead in the fourth, en route to the victory in their season opener.

“The effort was there all night,” Buckeye Local head coach Chris Heaton said. “I can’t fault their effort. In the first 12-14 minutes, we could not buy a bucket. We could not get a shot to drop, and that put us in a hole.

“Then, we stepped it up on defense. We jumped into our full-court press. We were able to cause some havoc. We were able to force some turnovers. Cameron Grabits did a great job on defense.”

Indian Creek’s inability to handle Buckeye Local’s pressure led to its downfall.

“They (the Panthers) played hard,” Indian Creek (0-2) head coach Joe Dunlevy said about what changed after his team went up by 14 points. “We did not handle their pressure. We did not play like a team that was up 14 and had the ball. We were up 14, and we had the ball, but we did not play like it. They were tougher than us in the second half.”

Grabits was the lone Buckeye Local player to score in double digits, tallying a game-high 17 points, while pulling down a team-high nine rebounds. Jacob Pielech produced seven points off of the bench.

“We knew what they were going to do,” Dunlevy said. “In the second half, they pressured us, and we did not handle it. We had too many turnovers, we missed too many free throws and we lost the game because of it.”

Isaiah VanDine delivered a double-double to lead the way for the Redskins, netting a team-high 13 points and pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds. Mike Kuczykowski collected a dozen points.

Buckeye Local outscored Indian Creek, 42-28, in the last three quarters.

“We still have work to do toward the end of the game,” Heaton said. “Once the ball started going into the hoop, we gained confidence. We did a great job with our pressure. Jacob Pielech, Hayden Taylor and Cameron Grabits did an outstanding job putting pressure on the ball. They were able to force Indian Creek to get into some bad spots.”

The Redskins recorded the first five points of the game, en route to taking an 11-4 lead at the end of the first. They continued to increase its advantage early in the second. A free throw by Jacob Wright made the score 18-6, and a 3-pointer by Kuczykowski increased the advantage to 23-9.

“It was a combination of our shots not falling and what they were doing,” Heaton said. “I think there was a little bit if first game jitters. We started to come around toward the end of the half. We never quit. We battled. We fought.

“Coach Dunlevy does a great job here. At the start of the game, I think we set basketball back a few years. We are excited. You know what you are going to get when you come here.”

After the huge lead, the Redskins got away from what made them successful up to that point in the game.

“We ran our offense, we passed the ball and we moved the ball,” Dunlevy said about what enabled his team to build its lead. “In the second half, we did not do those things.”

The Panthers scratched and clawed their way back into the game. A 3-pointer by Hayden Taylor got the run started, and the visitors were able to shave six points off of their deficit, as the hosts led 25-17 at halftime.

The run continued in the third. The Panthers outscored the Redskins, 11-3, in the quarter. Buckeye Local tallied the last nine points of the quarter to rally from a 28-19 deficit to come all the way back and tie the score heading into the fourth.

Pielech opened the scoring in the fourth to give the Panthers their first lead of the game at 30-28, and his second basket of the quarter made it 32-28.

The Redskins pulled within 37-35, but Grabits converted a three-point play to push the Panthers lead back up to five.

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