Season-openers are always exciting for one reason or another, but couple the buzz surrounding the start of the season with the drama of a thrilling game and you have something special … just ask the fans, players and coaches who saw Big Walnut knock off visiting Buckeye Valley last Tuesday (December 3) in Sunbury.
The game was about as close as they come, with the Golden Eagles surviving a late Baron push to notch a 51-50 non-league victory.
“It was never more than a five- or six-point game,” Big Walnut head coach Eric Myers said. “Everybody jumped right into the fire … it was a competitive game between two competitive schools right out of the gate. Give Buckeye Valley credit, they put up a great fight.”
BV owned a slim 13-11 lead after one quarter, but Big Walnut bounced back with a 15-12 second quarter to make it a slim 26-25 game at the break. Buckeye Valley led 39-37 heading into the game’s final eight minutes, but the Golden Eagles responded with a 14-11 edge in the deciding fourth quarter to seal the deal.
In the final frame, both teams made the same number of shots, both teams sank six threes, Big Walnut made seven of its 13 free throws while BV made six of its 12 attempts at the line.
The Golden Eagles (1-0) found themselves up by five with two minutes to go before the Barons (0-1) made a final push, cutting the deficit to a single point with 19 seconds remaining. Big Walnut then missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, but Buckeye Valley misfired a 10-footer, collected the offensive rebound, and missed the putback as time ran out.
Junior forward Michael Buckles led Big Walnut with 16 points. Senior guard Nick Herbert, who canned a pair of threes, followed with 8 points while junior guard Matt Tarney, who joined Herbert with two treys, senior guard Logan Boyd and junior forward Zac Asher contributed 6 points apiece.
Chase LaVeer and Boyd also counted three-point baskets.
Junior Devin Cramer, who buried five treys to go with four free throws, paced Buckeye Valley with a game-high 19 points. Sophomore Mitch Rotondo joined Cramer in double figures with 11 points.