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Bucktail overcomes slow start to beat Millville

RENOVO — Bucktail Coach Gene Bruno knew this year’s varsity team was not only going to be better from a season ago but also expected the Bucks to be competitive in every game. Bruno also wanted to get that signature win, to prove that his players can be a threat on any given night to each team that they play.

Although he didn’t want to declare it just yet, Saturday night’s 63-54 win over Millville — in which the Quakers jumped out to a 14-0 to start — may just be the game that the Bucks look back on as their finest of the year.

Millville came into the game at just 1-11 but have played some big schools and played them well, so they no doubt had the game against Bucktail circled as a prime chance at a win. The 14-0 start paced by Landon Evans’ eight first-quarter points only grew the Quakers confidence and game.

It was a Brody Pentz foul shot that got the Bucks on the board at 14-1 with just three minutes left in the first quarter. But soon teammates like Braylon Fantaski, who hit a jumper and a three, got into the action as Bucktail cut the lead to a respectable 17-11 score after the first.

The Bucks edged out the Quakers by a point in a 15-14 second quarter as the Millville lead had shrunk to 31-26 at halftime.

The third quarter was Bucktail’s Dylan Cross’ turn as the senior scored seven points. The Bucks tied the game 31-31 on a Will Steele foul shot before Cross followed that up with a lay-up giving his team the first and the games only lead change of the night with the Bucks up 33-31. Emphasizing the Bucktail come back came on the very next play occurred when Fantaski stole the ball and darted down court. Rather than looking for the contested lay-up Fantaski threw a laser of a pass to a streaking Pentz who hauled in the dime and quickly made the score 35-31.

Millville didn’t go away and physical, often chirpy, play in the fourth quarter gave the fans plenty to cheer about, but the Bucktail lead would often swell to as many as ten points and the game was never really contested again. Fantaski and Pentz each added seven points in the fourth quarter as Fantaski shot 7-for-7 from the line in a foul-plagued final eight minutes.

“Millville only lost by 10 to Neumann and seven to Montgomery. So, as I said at the beginning of the year, I’d like to get eight wins; get to the Districts and beat somebody with substance. That may or may not be the team, but that’s a big win for us,” said Coach Bruno following the effort. “To come back like that, we talked a lot about intensity and I’m still not completely sure we have enough of it, but we showed it when we needed to tonight”.

“This was a win that we had to get and the kids knew that,” Bruno added. “Millville has played the other teams in the league very well, so this shows us that if we can have a good shooting night then we can compete with the teams that are ahead of us.”

Bruno credited much of the win to the Bucks out-rebounding the Quakers 34-26. Once the Bucks got the lead, the trap really pushed the turnover rate up as Millville would commit 25 on the night. Dylan Cross was tied for a game high of 17 points and added 12 rebounds; freshman Pentz scored 16 points; and Zach Pick hauled in 12 rebounds and scored five points.

The Bucks moved to 4-8 and will be home Wednesday for senior night.

Bucktail 63, Millville 54

Bucktail 11 15 18 19- 63

Millville 17 14 08 15-54

Bucktail: Dylan Cross 6, 5 for 10- 17; Brody Pentz 4, 8 for 15- 16; Braylon Fantaski 1, 1, 9 for 10- 14; Will Steele 4, 1 for 1- 9; Brett Mason 2 for 2- 2; Zack Pick 2, 1 for 2- 5; Tanner Pettingill 0 for 2- 0.

Millville: Landon Evans 6, 1 for 2- 13; Patrick Stefan 5, 1, 4 for 5- 17; Micah Savidge 2, 1, 1 for 2- 8; Hayden Weaver 1, 1, 2 for 2- 7; Jacob Fought 2, 1 for 2- 7; Nick Arnold 1, 0 for 2- 2; Ian Ludwig 0 for 2- 0.

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