ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- Bolstered by a deft shooting touch in the first half and strong defense and rebounding throughout, the Basketball Buccaneers from the Double-R defeated a talented Valley Forge five, 57-39, on Friday night at Rocky River Gymnasium.
The Pirates got a combined 35 points on 11-of-20 shooting from captains Charlie Hudson (21 points) and Robby Lang (14). Both did damage from beyond the arc, where Rocky River (3-4, 2-3 Great Lakes Conference) went 8-of-23 (34.3%) for the game. And both were effective early in the contest, helping the Maroon & White to a 35-24 lead by halftime. River logged effective field-goal (a measure accounting for the risk/reward of 3-pointers vs. 2-pointers) marks of 54.2% in the opening quarter and 47.5% in the second period. Shooting percentages would fall off in the second half but not the home five's energy level and performance in defending and on the glass.
Rocky River held Valley Forge to a 33.3% mark (16-of-48) from the field, a season-best for the Pirates. River out-rebounded the Patriots, 40-30. Included in the Pirates' 40 rebounds was a swashbuckling, hard-nosed effort on the offensive boards. Led by Braedon Spies (with four offensive rebounds) and Lang (3 OR), the Roundball Raiders registered a season-high 14 offensive rebounds.
One facet of the game where the offensive boards weren't required was when Hudson was launching shots from beyond the 19-foot-9-inch arc. The veteran guard drained three triples in an opening quarter that saw the Pirates outscore the Patriots, 14-10.
By the latter stages of the second period, tremendous play from juniors Trell Marks and Chris Sledge had the visitors within one point (25-24). Sledge -- a versatile talent able to knock down a variety of shots, both on balance and off -- finished the game with 21 points.
Despite the Patriot push-back, a late run fueled by Lang and Hudson sent the home five into halftime with a commanding lead. Lang scored five straight River points toward the end of the quarter; Hudson swished a 70-foot buzzer-beater to close out the frame with an exclamation point. For the game, Hudson went 5-of-6 from distance; his 21 points tied a season-high (Jan. 2 vs. Padua).
Rocky River would connect on just 6-of-25 (24%) shots in the second half, but the Pirates maintained possessions (River committed a season-low 12 turnovers for the game) and continued to stymie the Patriots at the other end of the floor. The Sons of Blackbeard held a 10-point lead (45-35) at the end of the third. They held Valley Forge to a four-point fourth in closing out the 57-39 victory.
The final margin of victory marked Rocky River's widest of the season. The win ran River's 2020-21 home mark to an even 2-2.
Noting his team's quick first steps, purposeful cuts to the basket, and dogged defensive effort, Head Coach Mike Murray commented, "I thought our guys were flying around tonight."
Tag Friday's flight thusly: smooth, without turbulence, and on time.
CANNON FIRE ...
FROM THE BUCS SCORE: Braedon Spies logged four points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Spies' 12 rebounds marked a career-best. ... Tommy Bebie had 12 points and a pair of assists. ... Patrick Lange registered a hard-working, career-high seven rebounds. ... The Pirates were a plus-3 in turnover margin, committing 12 against the Patriots' 15. River went into Friday's contest averaging more than 20 miscues per game.
ON THE REBOUND: Rocky River's plus-10 on the boards marked the team's second-best rebounding performance of the winter. The Pirates were a plus-11 two games back against Padua. On the season, the Double-R has out-rebounded its opponents in four games: River is 3-1 over those four.
DIALED IN: Over his last three games, Charlie Hudson is 11-of-17 (64.7%) from 3-point range. For the season, Hudson has connected 57.1% (12-of-21) of his attempts from beyond the arc. The multi-sport athlete (football, lacrosse) went 4-of-4 at the free-throw line on Friday. He's an 81.3% (26-of-32) foul shooter on the season.
YOUNG BUCS: In Friday's JV action, River defeated Valley Forge, 48-42. Sophomores Will DeClerck and Marshall Walker each scored 10 points in the win.
by Skip Snow
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