ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – In a pounding, physical battle on the hardwood at Rocky River Gymnasium, the Pirates defeated the Buckeye Bucks, 58-53, on Tuesday.
A balanced, all-hands-on-deck performance got the Maroon & White over the top in a gritty Great Lakes Conference contest that could’ve been played by the Rock-‘em Sock-‘em Pirates and the Black-eye Bucks. For the home five, the victory avenges a Jan. 7 loss at Buckeye.
Rocky River (10-8, 8-6 GLC) endured two distinct shooting droughts in the contest. One of those was a three-and-a-half-minute spell in the opening quarter which came after an 8-1 run to open the game. Over the cold spell, fouls – not points -- were ticked into the scorebook, one-by-one. Hard fouls. Charges, blocks, moving screens. Bodies wresting would-be rebounds into pileups on the floor. All during a 7-0 run for the visitors.
Sophomore Braedon Spies ended that spell with a determined one-man effort. Spies scored six points over the final 70 seconds of the first quarter. His final two came on a transition bucket beating the first-period buzzer, and despite River’s shooting woes, the Pirates went into the second leading, 14-11.
The second quarter would be River’s best of the night. The Basketball Buccaneers went 3-for-5 from 3-point range as part of going 9-fo-14 (64.3%) from the field. Spies, Charlie Hudson, Tommy Ruma and Connor O’Toole paced an offense that scored 21 points in the eight-minute frame. Hudson, Tommy Bebie and Robby Lang were a physical force for the Pirates, matching the bruising efforts of the Bucks in a shoulder-to-shoulder tussle which continued between the buckets.
three-ball midway through the second lifted River to a double-digit lead. The
Pirates would go into halftime leading by 14 (36-22).
Despite another stretch
of misfires, Rocky River maintained its double-digit lead until the late minutes
of the third, when the Bucks made a run. A Nick Miller triple at the 1:50-mark
got the visitors within three (40-37). Miller would finish the game with
multiple threes and a game-high 25 points.
Rocky River went
just 2-for-13 (15.4%) from the field in the third.
The fourth quarter opened with the battered and bedraggled foes separated by three points: Rocky River 42, Buckeye 39. A pair of Connor O’Toole free throws at the six-minute mark put River in front by two scores (48-42). O’Toole’s tosses came on a successful one-and-one; Rocky River was sharp in converting its one-and-ones and finished the game 16-of-22 (72.7%) from the free-throw line.
A gutty Buckeye squad stayed close. In the fifth minute of the fourth frame, the Bucks got within one (51-50). The Pirates’ answer was a pair of free throws by Robby Lang. Those throws were part of a decisive 6-0 run for the home five. That stretch included a big 2-point one-and-one from Hudson who finished the game 6-of-8 from the foul line.
remarkable resolve and stamina after such a rough-and-tumble contest, a quick-feet
and ball-hawking Pirate defense grinded out the final three-and-a-half minutes
of play without allowing a field goal.
River finished the game as a plus-4 in both turnover margin (12 turnovers to Buckeye’s 16) and rebounding margin (31-27). The Pirates were outshot, 43% to 38%, from the floor, but Rocky River bested Buckeye at the free-throw line where the Bucks went 11-for-19 (57.9%).
Connor O’Toole finished with an impressive line. The senior guard logged six points and five rebounds to go with four assists and a pair of steals.
Charlie Hudson had a team-high 16 points on the night. Hudson also had six boards. He and O’Toole were especially effective in coming up with hard-fought offensive rebounds. Rocky River had 11 offensive rebounds as a team and has now registered a double-digit total in three of the team’s last four games.
Tommy Ruma had 13
points. Braedon Spies finished with 10. Tommy Bebie added nine points and six
boards. Spies and Bebie logged two steals each.
next game will be Friday when the Pirates host the Fairview Warriors (7:30 p.m.
Eight Sons of
Blackbeard will be nursing some bruises and scrapes in the interim.
CANNON FIRE …
YOUNG BUCS: Rocky River defeated Buckeye, 47-38, in Tuesday’s freshman game. Maclan Scott (14 points) and Evan Giusti (12) led the Pirates in a game that saw River outscore its guests, 30-15, in the second half. … The Double-R was bested, 60-57, in an overtime JV contest. Ian Tomsik had 15 points for the Pirates; Patrick Lange added 13.
THE 6-AND-UNDER SET: Rocky River’s varsity has now played three straight games decided by two scores or less. On the season, the Pirates are 6-3 over nine such games.
by Skip Snow
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