Road improvements: River tops Fairview in Wagar/210 tussle
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio --The Pirates closed out play in the Great Lakes Conference Tournament with a 72-62 victory over the Fairview Warriors in a Saturday consolation game. The Double-R denizens of Wagar Road doubled up their neighbors from West 210th, 22-11, in the game's opening quarter, and the Pirates would hold a lead of at least six points the rest of the way. Rocky River broke out of a two-week shooting slump to shoot 50% (27-of-54) from the field, and four Pirates notched double-digit scoring totals as the Maroon & White registered their highest point total since Feb. 26, 2019 (74 vs. Firelands).
Rocky River (9-12) outshot Fairview, 50% to 38%, and the Pirates out-rebounded their visitors, 38-32. The Sons of Blackbeard recorded a season-high 38 points in the paint while getting 22 points off turnovers. River's fine offensive game was buoyed by excellent passing: the Pirates logged a season-high 21 assists in a contest that marked their second win in as many tries against the Warriors this winter.
Fairview ended the first half on a solid run and went into halftime trailing, 33-25. A Robby Lang basket at 3:45 of the third quarter capped off a 12-6 River run to open the second half. The Roundball Raiders led by 10 (47-37) at the end of the third. The west-side neighbors evenly split 50 points in a high-scoring fourth frame.
Throughout the battle for third-place in the league's first bracket event, the Buccaneer bench bunch was solid. Rocky River got a combined 13 points and nine rebounds from Will DeClerck, Justin Gina, Stan Heuler, Patrick Lange, and Ian Tomsik. That group mixed in with Pirate starters in various lineup combinations which were productive at both ends of the floor. Three of those players (Heuler, Lange, Tomsik) logged individual plus/minus figures of plus-4 or better; River had eight such players overall.
Junior forward Robby Lang was a plus-5 in the contest. Lang logged a game-high 16 points on a 7-of-9 shooting performance. He also recorded eight rebounds and was credited with five assists.
Senior guard Nathan Robertson tied a career-high with 13 points and set a new career mark for single-game assists with five. Robertson and Lang combined to sink four of Rocky River's six 3-pointers in the game. Charlie Hudson and Tommy Bebie also reached double figures; they each scored 11. Hudson was a team-best plus-16 in his 27 minutes on the floor. Braedon Spies chipped in with eight points, six boards, and four assists.
The Warriors were led by junior guard Michael Goff (15 points, four assists), senior guard Ethan McQuate (13 points), and junior guard Tyler Holliday (11 points, 10 rebounds).
The Pirate victory snapped a two-game losing streak at home; River is now 6-4 this season at Rocky River Gymnasium. The win also served as a solid bounce-back from a disappointing 86-56 loss to eventual league champion Bay in Wednesday's tournament semifinal.
"I'm really proud of the way we were able to come back from that loss," said Head Coach Mike Murray. "We played a lot of kids, and they all responded really well."
CANNON FIRE ...
YOUNG BUCS: The Pirate JV squad closed out its season with a 64-63 win over Fairview. River's scoring leaders were Gavin O'Brien (14 points), Marshall Walker (13), Will DeClerck (12), and Fionn Harte (10).
BACK ON TARGET: Rocky River's shooting acumen on display Saturday was a reversal of a recent trend. Over its previous four games, the Pirates had shot just 30.3% from the floor. ... The Maroon & White's two wins over Fairview come on the heels of the Warriors winning five straight games in the series. In the last 19 Battle-of-Wagar-Road games, Rocky River is 13-6.
ON DECK: The Pirates will now begin play in one of five DII Northeast Ohio district tournament brackets. On Friday at 7 p.m., Rocky River will play host to either Shaw or Mentor Lake Catholic.
by Skip Snow
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