Buchanan boys win thriller for fifth straight; girls pitch second-half shutout 

Published 10:15 am Saturday, January 29, 2022

BUCHANAN — After losing five of six games to start the season, Buchanan boys basketball coach Reid McBeth said his team didn’t have enough composure at the end of a few close losses — but he believed his team would come around.

With a 56-52 win over BCS Athletic Conference rival Berrien Springs Friday, McBeth’s squad has now won five consecutive games and is starting to build confidence as the calendar turns to February. 

“Obviously, we had a rough start to the season,” McBeth, whose team returned just one starter from last year, said. “We were pretty much starting from scratch. It takes the kids a while to grow up, and I think that’s what is starting to happen.” 

The Bucks (6-5, 1-2 BCS Red) and Shamrocks (5-5, 2-1 BCS Red) traded leads most of the game, but a few defensive stops and made free throws in the final minute allowed Buchanan to hold on. After three early-season losses of three points or less, the Bucks have now won three games by six points or less in the last two weeks.

“I think our kids are starting to handle it,” McBeth said. “Just staying calm a little bit more – understanding you don’t have to be in a hurry. Just take a deep breath and make good decisions with the ball. That’s what it takes to pull out these close ones.”

Ryan Young led the Bucks with 31 points and 21 rebounds, including nine points in the fourth quarter. In the final minute, he made two critical free throws to put his team up by four and was active on the offensive glass all game. 

“That’s the thing with Ryan,” said McBeth, whose team won the rebound battle 44-33. “If he misses the first one, he’s going to go after the second one and he’s going to go after the third one. I thought Dillon Oatsvall really attacked the boards for us today as well.”

A key to holding off the Shamrocks late was holding stars James York and Byron Tate to three combined points in the fourth quarter. York finished with 12 points, while Tate and Kole Blasko had 11 each for the Shamrocks. 

“I think that speaks volumes about the defense,” said McBeth, of the scoring output of York and Tate. “Our guys worked really hard. That’s how you win a game like that.”

McBeth credited Paul VanOverberghe and Connor Legault with slowing down the Shamrocks from the middle of their zone defense and mentioned Brady Thompson for his efforts slowing down York.

“That’s where we’re making our living right now is playing defense,” McBeth said. “When everybody accepts whatever their role is to make the team better, it’s going to make the whole group succeed. That’s kind of what has happened with these guys.”


Girls dominate

Buchanan held Berrien Springs scoreless in the second half and forced 43 turnovers in a 50-13 win on the girl’s side. 

Early on, the Bucks (11-2, 3-0 BCS Red) looked out of rhythm, but clamped down in the second half to shut out the Shamrocks (1-10, 0-3 BCS Red). 

“It took us a little longer than we anticipated to get going, but I was overall pleased with our defense,” Buchanan coach Gabe Miller said. “I’d like to see us get more hands in passing lanes — I think they got a little bit tired there at the end. But the girls will be ready to come back to work.”

Hannah Tompkins led Buchanan with 14 points, while Alyssa Carson had 11. Hannah Herman and Hailey Jonatzke chipped in with seven points each.

The girls host Michigan Lutheran Monday, while the boys travel to Dowagiac on Tuesday.