Bobcats move to 3-0 with 62-52 win over Eastwood


PEMBERVILLE — A year ago, then-Eastwood senior Case Boos had a last second steal and buzzer-beater layup to give the Eagles a 59-57 win over Bowling Green.

This year, BG got three players into double figures to defeat the Eagles, 62-52, to stay undefeated at 3-0. Eastwood suffers its first loss, falling to 2-1. It’s a Wood County rivalry that never loses its luster.

“It’s always fun playing a team this close to you,” said BG senior guard Brayden Freyman, who led all scorers with 19 points.

“It’s always a rivalry every year,” Freyman continued. “They got the best of us last year so we were happy we were able to come out on top of this one.”

The rivalry has even more history. This year the Bobcats made eight three-point goals, but two years ago BG was lights out from beyond the arc in a 76-71 win over Eastwood.

That game two years ago hasn’t been lost on Eastwood second-year coach Jason Faykosh, an Eastwood alum who happened to be BG’s junior varsity coach that year, so he’s been on the winning end the past two years — two years ago with BG and last year with Eastwood.

“It’s two schools that are pretty close to each other, pretty even skilled-wise no matter the sport, so we’ve had some really good match-ups the last few years,” Faykosh said.

“Last year was one we probably shouldn’t have gotten but we kind of stole it there at the end. But it seems like every year this is a battle and we compete with each other and it is two teams that really get after it. It was a great game tonight as well,” continued Faykosh.

This year, BG senior guard Ahmir Ruffin had 14 points and two steals and senior guard Jacob Amspoker had 10 points and two steals to aid the Bobcats’ cause.

BG shot 44% (22-for-50) from the floor, 71% (10-for-14) from the free throw line and committed just eight turnovers against the Eagles’ hard-pressing defense. BG coach Mason Roth knew this would be a challenge.

“They played really hard. Coach Faykosh does a great job with them,” Roth said. “I was worried because they just play so hard.

“It’s a rivalry game, they are going to give it their all. Give credit to them — they made plays, they did a good job, but thankfully we did enough in the end.”

Roth and Freyman say BG’s 3-0 start is exactly what the Bobcats needed as Northern Lakes League action looms.

“It’s really important to us,” Freyman said. “We wanted to get off to a fast start this year. We’re going to start getting into the hard part — some league games coming up here so we really needed to start these games off 3-0 and we’ve done so.”

Roth added, “We try to take it one day at a time. We always want to win them all but it is not always possible.

“At times we haven’t played the greatest during this stretch but we’ve been doing enough to win games. We’re going to go through those stretches but we’re a mature team that handles this stuff well.”

The only time the Bobcats trailed against Eastwood was when junior Andre Lewis scored the game’s first basket on a dish from senior Andrew Badenhop, but that was nearly four minutes into the first quarter.

The second half of the first stanza the Bobcats opened a 17-7 lead and never trailed again, although the Eagles closed to three twice in the third quarter before BG pulled away again.

Among eight BG players who got into the scoring column, junior guard Ja’ceous Shannon had six points and four rebounds and junior forward Karter Shank scored five points.

Junior forward Tomas Meek ahd three points and six rebounds, senior guard Kyle Sickler scored three points, and senior guard Garrett Bateson added two points for BG.

Just as impressive was BG’s cheering section, which was made up entirely of the program’s players from its junior varsity and freshman teams, and their enthusiasm for the varsity never waned.

“It’s just part of our program,” Roth said. “We try to make the game of basketball fun.

“Sometimes it’s not always fun, but whether you are the first guy on the roster or the last guy, you’re expected to do the same — energy level, cheer on your teammates, and these guys, even in years past, yelling from behind the bench — not all these guys are on the bench getting the chance to play and it’s part of our program.”

Eastwood was led by Badenhop, who pieced together a double-double 13 points and 10 rebounds and junior Kadyn Donnell hit three shots from downtown in scoring 11 points and he grabbed five rebounds.

Lewis had nine points, four rebounds and two steals, junior Drew Kachmarik scored seven points, and sophomore Drew Luidhardt had six points and four rebounds.

Eastwood senior Caleb Souder had four points and two steals and junior Dayquan Oliver added two points.

The Eagles shot 40% (18-for-45) from the floor, 63% (12-for-19) from the charity stripe, committed 12 turnovers, but out rebounded the Bobcats, 32-29.

Faykosh says the non-league encounter with BG serves as a good test before the Eagles get back into Northern Buckeye Conference action.

“It’s a really good basketball team. They go 10-deep,” Faykosh said. “It’s tough to match up against them because all 10 of their guys can shoot the basketball. There is not a guy on the roster that isn’t a good shooter.

“It’s difficult to match up — one team this year that we do match up with size-wise because we don’t have a ton of size ourselves. But they are very tough to defend with their outside shooting and they hit a lot of outside shots tonight.”

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