ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – Rocky River upped its Great Lakes Conference mark to 2-0 with a 52-47 victory over the Valley Forge Patriots on Tuesday night.
River took a lead five buckets into the
game, and the Pirates (2-1, 2-0 GLC) would hold that advantage the rest of the
way despite a second-half rally by the visiting Patriots.
“I’m proud of our guys for staying tough and competing to the end,” said Head Coach Mike Murray.
That tough competitiveness was evident late when senior guard Tommy Ruma knocked down a pair of clutch free throws. When junior forward Charlie Hudson logged a key, fourth quarter blocked shot and then a steal on successive Valley Forge possessions. When senior guard Connor O’Toole put the brakes on the late Patriot surge with tremendous defense. And when sophomore center Robby Lang twice shut down Valley Forge leading scorer Trell Marks at the hoop in the final minutes.
Marks gave the Pirates fits throughout the
night, scoring 21 points and repeatedly keeping the visitors within striking distance
after mini-runs by the home five. Rocky River went 7-of-12 from the floor in
opening up a 19-11 lead by the end of the first quarter. Junior guard Nathan
Robertson punctuated the first with an impressive, athletic play, taking the basketball
the length of the floor and knocking down a layup in the final four seconds of
the opening eight-minute session.
When Robertson knocked down a triple,
capping off a fast break at 4:20 of the second, the River lead stood at 26-13.
The Patriots, however, worked themselves down to a two-score deficit by halftime:
Valley Forge outscored River, 10-2, over the final four minutes of the first half.
The Pirates worked their lead back to seven
in the early moments of the third quarter, but most of the third would be
played with the two sides separated by just 1-3 points, in a continuous ebb and
flow and short runs for each side.
River hit a highwater mark five-point lead twice
in the fourth, once mid-frame when Robby Lang knocked down a pair of free-throw
tosses, and a second time when Tommy Ruma knocked down two throws in the final
seconds of the contest.
Solid team defense, in both the front and backcourt, helped the Pirates defend their slim advantage throughout tense moments in the second half. Rocky River was outscored in transition and in the paint, but the Maroon & White finished the game as a plus-2 in turnovers (13 to the Patriots’ 15). O’Toole (four steals) and Hudson (three) paced the Pirates to a total of nine thefts in the contest.
Valley Forge outshot River, 49% (21-of-43)
to 40% (18-of-45). The Pirates outscored their visitors, 18-3, from beyond the
3-point arc (RRHS went 6-of-20, 30%, from distance) and 10-4 at the free-throw
line (the Pirates went 10-of-13, 76.9%).
Tommy Ruma went 5-of-6 at the line and 2-of-7
from 3-point-land as part of a 17-point night. Sophomore forward Tommy Bebie
went 6-of-8 from the floor in adding 14 points and four rebounds. Robertson
tallied 10 in 16 minutes of work.
The Pirates out-rebounded the Patriots, 26-24,
in what marked the first of two GLC meetings with Valley Forge. River will be
at Valley Forge on Jan. 24.
“We do have a lot to improve on,” said Murray, “but that’s what makes the journey so great.”
The journey of RR hoops season No. 100
continues on Friday at Holy Name (tip time 7:30 p.m.).
CANNON FIRE …
YOUNG BUCS: In freshman action, River lost to Valley Forge, 43-37, on Tuesday. Center Evan Giusti scored 12 points for the Pirates. The freshman squad is 2-1 on the season. … The Pirates downed the Patriots, 40-38, in Tuesday’s junior varsity game. Freshman forward Will DeClerck tallied 12 for River. The JV team is 1-2 through three games.
FREE SPACE: Rocky River is shooting a robust 80% (35-of-43) from the free-throw line through three games. … Tommy Ruma’s 17 points Tuesday marked his most in a single game since scoring 20 against Valley Forge on Feb. 5 last season. Ruma is averaging 12.3 points per game this season. The senior captain has committed just two turnovers in 84 minutes of action.
by Skip Snow
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