MEDINA, Ohio -- The Pirates gave a game effort in a tough road game, but in the end Rocky River was felled by a final-second dagger in a 46-43 loss at Buckeye on Tuesday.
Junior guard Danny Flood knocked down a 23-foot 3-pointer with .7 seconds remaining to lift the host Buckeyes to victory. The trey -- Flood's fourth of the contest -- was the final chapter of a taut Great Lakes Conference thriller that included no less than 20 ties and lead changes.
"This was a tough loss for our guys, but I still love our effort," said Head Coach Mike Murray.
The River effort included the Pirates allowing the host Bucks just two offensive rebounds in the game. It also included the Men in Maroon battling back from a nine-point deficit to eventually take part in a late-game scoreboard see-saw.
The Pirates and Bucks combined to commit just six turnovers in a tightly contested opening half. River's highwater mark for the game came at the 2:20-mark of the second quarter when senior guard Nathan Robertson dropped one from distance. Robertson's triple -- one of two he would have in the game -- vaulted the visiting five to a five-point lead (22-17). It would be River's largest lead of the game, and the bucket marked the Pirates' final points of the opening half. Rocky River went into halftime leading, 22-21.
The Bucks opened the second half with a 10-4 run. Buckeye's surge was fueled by its transition game and the 3-point shooting of Flood and junior forward Nick Miller.
Miller had a big third quarter, netting nine points in the eight-minute frame. River's Robby Lang had an even bigger third: the junior forward/center showed off an array of strong two-step moves to the hoop in scoring 10 points. But Lang's efforts accounted for just about all of Rocky River's offense in the period. Buckeye outscored the Pirates, 19-11, in the third; the Bucks toted a 40-33 lead into the fourth.
River's defense in the final frame was outstanding. Robertson, Braedon Spies, Tommy Bebie, Charlie Hudson, Patrick Lange and Stan Heuler were all in on a hustle-and-deny effort that helped get the Pirates back in the game. Neither side scored for the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but Spies then came through with a quick five points on a trey and a layup. Less than half-a-minute later -- at the 4:41-mark, Nathan Robertson drained a three from the left flank to put the Sons of Blackbeard in front, 41-40.
Buckeye's answer was slow in coming. The Bucks didn't score until the 2:36-mark. But the answer was emphatic. The points were registered with a distance bonus, as sophomore guard Caden Hudak scored from 19 feet-nine inches. Rocky River countered with two 1-of-2 trips to the foul line, and by the the 1:55-mark, the two sides were tied, 43-43.
The next minute-and-54 seconds amounted to a patient and scoreless exchange of possessions. Then Flood changed the equation with his dramatic bomb in the final second. Rocky River had .7 seconds left and did get off a desperation shot, but the game ended with the home side celebrating.
A tremendous Flood, and the Pirates were sunk.
CANNON FIRE ...
BUCS-SCORE HIGHLIGHTS: Rocky River's top scorers for the game were Braedon Spies (16 points) and Robby Lang (12). Buckeye was led by Danny Flood (18) and Nick Miller (14). For the game, the Bucks outshot the Pirates, 38% to 33%. The home five went 7-of-17 (41%) from 3-point range. River out-rebounded Buckeye, 32-27. Tommy Bebie had eight hard-working boards, all on the defensive glass. Turnovers were a near-even exchange: the Pirates were tagged with nine; the Bucks committed eight.
CLOSE SHAVES: Buckeye and Rocky River have played three games over the last two seasons (RR 1-2 record). All three have been decided by five points or less.
by Skip Snow
# # # pirates # # #