After dropping a disappointing 62-43 loss one night earlier, Panther head coach Jay Morris was fearful of the repercussions of back-to-back losses to open the season. John Rozenek need just one quarter to relieve his coach's fears.
Taking advantage of Rozenek's scoring and a very effective pressure defense, Buckeye Local recorded an impressive 78-48 win over Union Local in Morristown Friday night.
Rozenek, Buckeye's hard-working senior post, came within a point of matching the school scoring record, but it was the 14 consecutive points he scored in a first-half stretch catapulted the Panthers to their first win of the season.
BUCKEYE LOCAL’S John Rozenek (30) shoots over the defense of Union Local’s Gavin Porter during Friday night’s game in Morristown. Rozenek powered in 36 points.
Buckeye is back in action on Tuesday traveling to Wintersville to take on Indian Creek. The game was originally slated to be played in the former Mingo High gym.
Coach Vaughn Butler's Jets struggled with the Panther press and found buckets few and far between in dropping to an even 1-1 on the season. The Jets registered a 14-point win over Edison in their season opener. They host Harrison Central on Tuesday.
"I felt pretty poorly after last night's loss (at Steubenville) and didn't want to think about what effect it would have this team if we would have played the same way tonight," a relieved Morris said after the win. "So this was a pretty big win for us.
"We told our kids that when you run, you run because you play good defense," Morris added. "And we played well defensively tonight."
As for Rozenek's near record effort, Morris stressed the importance of scoring in the paint. Rozenek finished with 36 points, just one shy of the school mark held by Chase Groves.
"The more points you score in the paint, the more successful you will be. Those are high percentage shots," he added.
It took Buckeye just a couple minutes to find itself with two starters on the bench with a couple fouls each and down 5-4, but the depth of the Panther bench and the hot hand of Rozenek erased any doubt of whether they could handle the adversity.
Rozenek scored on a short jumper in the lane and following Kyle Michalo's three-point play, Rozenek started his wild scoring spree. He connected on five straight shots from inside the paint to pace the Panthers to a 19-5 lead at the first period break.
Rozenek continued his attack to open the second, scoring once off a pass from Tommy Hamilton and again on a layup to bolster the lead to 23-5. UL's Jacob Bailey tossed in a deuce to stop the Panther run, but Caleb Agnew, Shane Duncan and Dylan Williams combined to extend the lead to 30-7.
The Jets got a foul conversion from Trenton Tipton before Hamilton scored five straight at the line and Michalo converted a layup for a 37-8 lead. Buckeye closed the half with a 41-10 lead.
Rozenek, Brennan Czuchran and Michalo sparked the Panthers third quarter attack as the visitors extended their margin to 64-27 at the final break.
"My legs were completely gone at the end of the game," Rozenek said after his big effort. "I know they were trying to help me get the record, but I couldn't get it.
"I kept getting open and they (teammates) were very unselfish and kept getting the ball to me," the Panther high-scorer added. "This is a very unselfish team."
Rozenek finished with 36 points, all coming from the field to lead the Panthers. Hamilton provided the chief support with 13 points while Michalo closed with 11. Rozenek also led his team with 13 rebounds.
Bailey paced the Jets scoring with a 17-point effort that included a trio of threes. Kaleb McDiffitt added 15.
"You have to give them credit," Butler said after the tough loss. "They came ready to play. They just whipped us. They did what they had to do to win."
In the jayvee matchup, Union Local notched a 38-27 win as David Paulick led the winners with 16 points and Jarret Causby followed with 15. Tom Fish paced the Panthers with seven points while Devan Pyciak added six.
BUCKEYE LOCAL (78) - Czuchran 2, 1-2 5; Agnew 1, 0-1 2; Williams, 1-, 0-0 3; Duncan 3, 2-2 8; Rozenek 18, 0-2 36; Michalo4, 3-3 11; Hamilton 4, 5-6 13. Totals, 33-58, 11-16. UNION LOCAL (48) - McDiffitt 4, 6-6 15; Sill 0, 0-2 0; T. Tipton 1, 5-6 7; Jones 1, 2-2 4; Porter 0, 3-4 3; Bailey 6, 2-6 17; C. Tipton 1, 0-2 2; Dunfee 0, 0-0 0. Totals, 13-38, 18-28.
Three-point goals: Buckeye Local (1) - Williams, 1. Union Local (4) - Bailey, 3; McDiffitt, 1.