ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- A masterful comeback effort came up just short, as Rocky River dropped a 57-54 decision to Brunswick on Saturday night.
The Pirates fought their way into a close game after having trailed, 42-25, midway through the third period. Impressive two-way play by the tandem of Tommy Bebie and Braedon Spies helped get the Double-R within three (57-54) by the 1:50-mark of the fourth. But the final 110 seconds played out with nylon netting left alone at both ends, and a talented Blue Devils squad held on for the non-conference road win.
"We shared the ball well in the second half and and were starting to find a rhythm," said Head Coach Mike Murray. "I thought we communicated well defensively."
A Robby Lang trey to open the second quarter knotted the River-Brunswick score at 17-17, but the Pirates wouldn't score again until late in the period and the Blue Devils turned Rocky River miscues into an eight-point lead (25-17) by the 3:48-mark. The Devils led, 30-22, at halftime, and the visiting five pushed its advantage to 42-25 by the middle stages of the third quarter.
Dialed-in distance shooting got the Sons of Blackbeard back into the game. River whittled its deficit into single digits (46-38) when a Spies three closed out the third quarter. A Spies triple at 6:30 of the fourth got the Pirates within five (46-41). That bucket was followed by a Spies steal and a 3-pointer by Stan Heuler.
The Heuler bomb capped off a 19-4 run for Rocky River. The Blue Devils countered with a key 5-0 mini-run to get their lead to seven (51-44).
But again, the Maroon & White showed they were game for more. After ceding more rope to the visitors and getting down by nine, the Pirates battled back. River got its deficit to six (57-51) by the two-minute mark. Then Spies drained yet another triple -- his fourth of the night -- to get the Pirates within three (57-54).
But that bucket would be the last of the game. River did have the basketball with 15 seconds remaining; the Pirates were unable to generate a score.
For the game, Rocky River shot 46.5% (20-of-43) from the field; that mark included an 11-of-23 (47.8%) performance from beyond the arc. River's accuracy saw a bounce-back within the game: the Maroon & White were 12-of-22 (54.5%) from the field after halftime. And the game itself was certainly a bounce-back from the previous evening which saw the Pirates log a season-worst 18.9% mark in shooting the ball.
Rocky River held Brunswick to a 40% (22-of-55) figure from the floor and a 25% mark (6-of-24) from 3-point range. Rebounds were an even 28-28 exchange; turnovers were a plus-8 for the visitors: the Blue Devils committed just eight miscues to River's 16.
For the game, the Devils got 20 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals from senior forward Marquis Barnett. But Barnett wasn't the game-high scorer: the Pirates got a career-high 22 from Tommy Bebie who went 9-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from 3-point-land. Spies finishes with 13 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Robby Lang added nine points and eight boards.
"Our guys played really hard," said Murray. "This shows our kids that we can play basketball at a high level, but we just have to be more consistent."
Rocky River (7-9) will get its next opportunity to rise to a challenge and thread together a consistent 32-minute performance on Tuesday night at Lakewood.
by Skip Snow
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