“Two in a row” is a phrase Buckeye Valley boys basketball fans are used to hearing — but not when it refers to losses.
Buckeye Valley had the same trouble it did on Tuesday night against Big Walnut — mistakes and poor shooting — and both cost them as the Mount Gilead Indians rode out of Delaware with a hard-fought 42-40 Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference victory Thursday at Buckeye Valley High School. The two game skid is the team’s first in just over two years.
“We made mistakes throughout the game,” Buckeye Valley coach Donovon Barrett said. “I don’t know when these guys are going to get it, but we keep telling them the little things matter. They’re doing things on their own instead of doing them as a team, and they’re coming back to haunt us.”
Not all of Buckeye Valley’s (7-3, 5-1 MOAC Red) mistakes came on turnovers, though they had 16 miscues in the game. What hurt the Barons most is a seeming lack of enthusiasm or energy at times, which resulted is missed assignments, lazy passes and poor shot selection.
“It’s not one or two guys, but it’s different guys at different times,” Barrett said. “We have to play with a little bit more passion, focus more on the details, such as what our assignments are, and have some answers and accountability when we ask why things happened, because right now, we’re not getting it.”
Mount Gilead (9-3, 5-1 MOAC Blue) stayed more focused and played as a unit all evening long, taking advantage of many of the Barons’ mistakes. The Indians tied the score after one quarter, held a 28-23 lead at the half and rallied from a 36-32 third quarter deficit to hold Buckeye Valley to just four points in the final period. Mount Gilead also helped itself with a perfect 8 for 8 showing from the foul line.
“We played poorly and Mount Gilead capitalized,” Barrett said. “Give credit to them. They could have folded after we held them to four in the third quarter, but they kept battling and held us to four points in the fourth quarter. They won the last battle.”
Buckeye Valley’s shooting didn’t help matters, either. After going 6 of 13 (46 percent) in the opening quarter, the Barons were 9 of 37 (24 percent) the rest of the way for mark of 15 of 50 (30 percent) for the game. The second and fourth quarters were the killers, with the Barons going a combined 4 of 20 (20 percent) in the two periods.
“Our offense is not doing anything,” Barrett said. “We’re not making shots. We have to get some better opportunities for our guys to make shots they’re comfortable with, but they have to comfortable taking the shots. The bottom line is we’re shooting ourselves in the foot way too much.”
The Barons had their chances, thanks largely to a defensive effort in the third quarter that limited the Indians to just four points on 1 of 8 (13 percent) shooting, but Buckeye Valley did not score in the first 5:51 of the final quarter and Mount Gilead scored the first six points of the period to take a 38-36 lead.
Junior Zach Hassinger split a pair of free throws to cut the deficit back to a point, but the Indians’ Ethan Harris scored on a jumper with 1:47 left, then, following a Baron time out, stole the ball away and threw a long pass down court to teammate Kolby Snyder for a fast break layup that put Mount Gilead ahead 42-37 with 1:22 left.
Hassinger converted a three-point play with 1:13 to go, and the Barons forced three Indians turnovers in the final 66 seconds, but couldn’t convert any of them into points.
Junior Jordan Tomlinson led the Barons with 14 points while Hassinger added 13. Seniors Chris Jackson and Matt Novak had eight and five points, respectively.
Snyder topped all scorers with 20 points for Mount Gilead. Xavier Harris added eight points and Ethan Harris six for the Indians.