LAGRANGE — Sometimes when it rains, it pours.
In the midst of four-game losing skid coming into Wednesday’s night’s game with Keystone, Buckeye’s girls had been struggling to take care of the ball.
Unfortunately, that trend continued as the Wildcats took advantage of a host of miscues and won 53-36 in a pivotal Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division showdown.
The win gives three-time reigning division champ Keystone (6-4, 4-0) an early two-game lead in the race for the crown and sent the Bucks (4-6, 2-2) home with their fifth consecutive setback.
“We lost some focus and just couldn’t handle the pressure,” Buckeye coach Jeremy Osborn said. “That’s what it came down to. They played a good game other than that stretch midway through the second quarter until about midway through the third.”
Midway through the first half, the Bucks had the game at their pace and took a 14-9 lead after a pair of Erika Urbanic jumpers.
A timeout by Wildcats coach Scott Terry and a switch to a half-court zone trap proceeded to give Buckeye fits as several of the team’s 33 turnovers were committed in a span of seven minutes stretching from the 4:20 mark of the second to about five minutes left in the third quarter.
Keystone went on an 11-2 run to take a four-point lead before Trisha Widenmeyer nailed a 3-pointer to stop the spurt. The Wildcats kept pushing as an inside shot from Danielle Wilmoth gave way to a mini five-point stretch by guard Emily Nagy to build a 27-19 halftime advantage.
“I thought the girls came out when we switched defenses and did a good job,” Terry said. “We rotated very well out of that zone press and made it hard for them to get some shots off and I thought we took a nice step forward after an ugly win over Midview the other night (46-42).”
The good times continued for Keystone after intermission as it pushed its lead out to as much as 21 thanks to Nagy, who poured in a career-high 21 points to go with team-highs in rebounds (8), assists (3) and steals (4).
“Emily finds ways to score and she’s one of the players we have that create a little bit on her own,” Terry said of the 5-foot-8 sophomore. “That showed tonight and that’s what we need. We need people to put the ball in the hole and she had a great night.”
Wilmoth finished with 10 points and six rebounds inside, while teammates Becky Nielsen and Molly Cornish both chipped in six points each.
Despite the 20-point deficit after three quarters, the Bucks continued to fight.
Marie Mesmer (team-high nine points, 10 rebounds) rattled off seven points early in the final period to cut the lead to 47-32 before the Wildcats responded with some key free throws to put it away.
Keystone 53, Buckeye 36
BUCKEYE 10 9 5 12 — 36
KEYSTONE 9 18 17 9 — 53
Buckeye — Trish Widenmeyer 2-3-8, Marie Mesmer 4-0-9, Sarah Sunde 2-0-4, Erika Urbanic 2-0-5, Brianna Hritz 2-2-6, Emily Giesen 1-0-2, Stacy Butcher 0-0-0, Emily Urmetz 1-0-2. TOTALS: 14-5-36.
Keystone — Becky Nielsen 2-2-6, Molly Cornish 2-2-6, Casidy Gregory 2-0-4, Emily Nagy 7-5-21, Danielle Wilmoth 3-4-10, Kim Kokoski 1-1-3, Kenzie Conrad 0-0-0, Evelyn Ridinger 0-0-0, Karli Sturgill 1-1-3, Mallory Nagy 0-0-0, Alisha Silva 0-0-0, Emily Kolar 0-0-0, Jaimee Senk 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-15-53.
3-point goals — E. Nagy 2, Widenmeyer, Urbanic, Mesmer. Rebounds —Buckeye 37 (Mesmer 10), Keystone 31 (E. Nagy 8). Assists — Buckeye 12 (Widenmeyer, Urbanic, Mesmer 3), Keystone 13 (E. Nagy 3). Records — Buckeye (4-6, 2-2), Keystone (6-4, 4-0). Junior varsity — Keystone 53, Buckeye 20.
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.