ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – The public address announcer at Rocky River Boys’ Basketball games often refers to Rocky River Gymnasium as the “Cozy Hardwood Confines.” In Tuesday’s Great Lakes Conference battle between the Pirates and the Parma Redmen, the moniker for the venue might well have been the Claustrophobic Hardwood Confines.
In a closely contested game that often yielded no room to complete as much as a pass, let alone run an offense, and which for long stretches offered up no points scored, Rocky River defeated Parma, 35-30. Tuesday’s game marked River’s second-lowest scoring total of the season (the Redmen held the Pirates to 34 points on Jan. 17) and the Pirates’ final GLC tilt.
River’s defensive effort yielded the program’s fewest points allowed in a single game since Feb. 2, 2019 (28 vs. Oberlin),
The opening of the contest was a slog for the visitors but a
sharp bolt to a commanding lead for the home five. Crisp passing and quick ball
movement dominated early Pirate possessions, and Rocky River built a 13-2 lead
by the end of the first quarter. Nothing about either offense the rest of the
way could be described as sharp.
The second period featured long River possessions but few capped by a field goal. Quick hands and aggressive contact thwarted more than a dozen would-be passes and shot attempts. Rocky River’s three field goals in the quarter were answered by four from Parma, and the two sides went into halftime having scored just 32 total points (Rocky River 20, Parma 12).
The third quarter made both teams long for the time back in
the second when they combined to find twine seven times. Possession after
possession went by. Most went scoreless. Every one of them was a string of
dribbles, cuts to the lane, pass attempts, and, occasionally, an attempt from
the floor. And every one of those movements was contested to the hilt.
At both ends of the floor and in every transition over floorboards
in between, passing lanes were clogged. The paint became a minefield where possessions
went to die. Shot attempts were swatted away. Pass attempts were routinely ticked,
picked or deflected to an unplanned destination.
Coaches on the sideline were exasperated (except for the
parts of their brains that loved the all-out defensive effort). In one stretch
over the middle of the third, Rocky River had a possession extended by a couple
offensive rebounds which ate up nearly three minutes of clock time. By the 30-second
mark of the period, the Redmen had outscored the Pirates, 8-1. Only a late
triple by junior guard Nathan Robertson prevented Rocky River from failing to
connect on a field goal in the quarter. And when the eight-minute defensive
drill came to a close, the Maroon & White led by just four points (24-20).
The Pirates did manage to score a quick bucket in the fourth, extending their lead to six points and in a game where six points felt like 10. A methodical back-and-forth ensued. A bucket at the 2:50-mark brought the Redmen within four – at 28-24 – by but River countered with a Tommy Ruma trey at 2:40. The next points of the game were scored more than a minute later and again by Ruma. The Pirate lead stood at 33-24.
The remainder of the game was an exchange of River free
throws and Parma baskets against a no-foul defense.
Ruma would finish the game with eight points, a total topped by only Robby Lang on the Pirate side of the scorebook. Lang gave his team nine points and a physical night of hardnosed defense and hustle rebounding. Robertson hit two 3-pointers and finished with six points. The Sons of Blackbeard also benefitted from the passing and defensive contributions of Connor O’Toole. [game statistics unavailable at time of publication].
With the hard-fought victory, Rocky River (12-9, 9-7 GLC)
finished the season over .500 in conference play. The Pirates have won three of
their last four games and will host their regular-season finale on Friday (7:30
p.m. vs. Kennedy). That contest will mark Senior Night for Rocky River
by Skip Snow
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