DELAWARE – Sure, it might be just messing around. But Buckeye Valley junior Max Stokey proved why chucking those shots up on the playground might just work out.
Stokey found himself with the ball and time running down in the third quarter of a tie game. It was too late to pass it off to a shooter. So, he let go from about 24 feet on the left wing.
The ball dropped through at the buzzer like he was standing over the basket, giving the Barons a lead they would hold the rest of the way in a 41-36 win over Olentangy Berlin in non-league play Saturday night.
“Believe it or not I actually practice that shot a little bit in the backyard,” Stokey said. “But I didn’t expect it to go in.”
Stokey had 11 points, five rebounds and five blocks and Dylan Herbert and Troy Scowden added 10 points apiece to lead the Barons (4-3).
“I knew this was going to be a tight game despite Berlin’s record,” BV coach Andy Gast said. “Coach (Donovon) Barrett does a great job with them. I knew he was going to try to shorten the game just based on their previous games being low-scoring. They executed their game-plan.”
It was the lowest scoring output for an opponent against BV this season. It was also BV’s lowest scoring output.
“They had a really good defense – something we weren’t really used to,” Stokey said. “It really slowed the game down.”
Jack Rotondo and Dylan Thompson each knocked down threes in the fourth quarter to push the BV lead as high as eight.
But Berlin wouldn’t go away. CJ Bishop, Nick Camacho and Grant Schrieber each scored baskets in a 6-0 run to pull the Bears within two in the final minute.
“We made enough plays,” Gast said. “I thought we had some poor decisions toward the end of the game and that’s something that we have to work on. We don’t see a lot of 1-3-1 zones and our execution has to be better. We had way too many turnovers.”
After a BV miss, Schrieber drove the lane with 18 seconds left, but lost possession. Stokey ended up with it and launched a pass to Scowden, who sent home a dunk to put the game out of reach.
“I like how we put ourselves in position to win it at the end,” Barrett said. “We got a couple of scores and a key stop. We had a chance to tie or maybe take the lead and we just didn’t get it done.”
The Barons led most of the way, using a 6-0 run to take a 9-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“I thought Max Stokey gave us huge minutes,” Gast said. “He hit a huge three at the end of the third quarter and made a couple of other plays as well.”
Berlin had the ball down one on four possessions in the second quarter, but couldn’t get over the hump.
Stokey put-back a miss and Herbert buried a three in the final seconds to give BV a 20-14 lead at the break.
“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns at the end of quarters,” Barrett said. “There’s two of those where we basically left the ball and they made (shots).”
BV maintained a two-possession game through most of the third. But Austin Corley knocked down a three and Camacho added a pair of free throws to knot it 26-26 with 1:22 left.
Schrieber had nine points and Corley added eight to lead the Bears (0-7).
“We got the pace where we wanted it, we got the pressure that we wanted – I’m really happy with the way our guys played tonight,” Barrett said.
Both teams return to action Friday night at 7:30 against non-league opponents. BV hosts future Mid-State League foe Bexley while Berlin travels to New Albany.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.