Pass time: Pirate offense clicks as River earns March tourney date
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- Nifty passing. Sharp shooting. Rinse and repeat. That was the Pirates' formula for success Friday night. And the Double-R rinsed and repeated early and often in a 73-45 DII Northeast Ohio district tournament
win over Lake Catholic.
A highly efficient River offense clicked on all cylinders in building a 42-19 lead by halftime. Tic-tac-toe passing led to a slew of quality looks in an opening 16 minutes that saw the home five go 15-of-29 (51.7%) from the field. The early minutes of the second quarter saw an athletic Cougars team get as close as eight points (22-14), but the Pirates closed out the half with a dominant 20-5 run and would lead by 20-plus the rest of the way.
Rocky River (10-12) got impressive production from every member of its starting five. Robby Lang (16 points, eight rebounds) and Braedon Spies (18 points, six assists) made for a dynamic inside-outside combination. Charlie Hudson (12 points) and Tommy Bebie (10 points, nine boards) were active and aggressive in driving the lane to create offense, either for themselves or teammates. Nathan Robertson (six points, five rebounds, four assists) threaded it all together with tremendous handles on the ball and sharp dishes from inventive angles.
On the offensive side of the ball, River's efforts continued what is now a two-game trend. In a Feb. 20 win over Fairview, the Pirates logged then-season highs in assists (21), points in the paint (38) and total points (72). On Friday against Lake, the Maroon & White registered 22 assists, 40 points in the paint, and 73 total points.
The Pirates' heady passing and good inside looks have gone hand-in-glove with better shooting numbers. A team that shot just 30% from the floor in four games from Feb. 2-17 has connected on 48.7% of its shots in the last two games. Both have been victories at a time of the year when nothing else will do. And with Friday's win, the Pirates march forth in the brackets and will now play on ... March 4th, when they travel to Akron, Ohio, to take on the Fighting Irish of St. Vincent-St. Mary. That game on Thursday is slated to tip off at 7 p.m.
For the talented Irish -- the top seed in Northeast Ohio -- "fighting" is in their name. The Pirates have earned themselves a March game date because of late, fighting is in their game.
CANNON FIRE ...
BUCS-SCORE HIGHLIGHTS: Rocky River outshot Lake Catholic, 48% to 28%. The Pirates were a plus-13 on the boards (43-30) and a plus-4 in turnover margin (13 to 17). The Cougars' top performers were Aidan Fitzgerald (12 points) and Joe Malchesky (10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds). River was whistled for a season-low seven fouls.
SPIES-Y DOES IT: Braedon Spies' eight assists marked a career-best. Spies went into Friday's contest averaging 11.4 and 2.8 assists per game. The junior guard knocked down 3-of-5 triples against Lake, breaking free of a 6-of-35 (17.1%) stretch from distance over his last five games.
NO-CLANG ROBBY LANG: Robby Lang logged what marked his second straight 16-point night on a 6-of-7 shooting performance. Over Rocky River's last three games, the junior forward is shooting 73.1% (19-of-26) from the floor.
by Skip Snow
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