ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – The Rocky River Pirates opened the 2020 calendar year in style by defeating the Elyria Catholic Panthers, 59-52, on Friday night.
The Pirates shot 50% (8-of-16) from the floor over an impressive
second half built on patience and tenacity. River outscored EC, 32-24, over
quarters three and four and showed hustle and determination in closing out the
eventual seven-point victory in the Great Lakes Conference battle at Rocky
The Panthers dominated Rocky River (6-3, 4-1) in points in the paint, points in transition, and in second-chance scores. The Pirates countered those deficits by out-shooting the Panthers at the free-throw line (and getting to the charity stripe with greater frequency) and from beyond the 3-poin arc. The Maroon & White muscled their way to 28 free-throw attempts (making 19 – 67.9%), and they bombed their way to a 6-of-13 (46.2%) performance on three-balls. Emblematic of River’s success in shooting from behind painted lines on the evening, senior guard Tommy Ruma went 9-of-12 at the line and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. Ruma scored 23 points to lead the Pirates.
Ruma’s exploits Friday were of a wire-to-wire variety. The third-year letterman knocked down a jumper late in the first quarter to help the Pirates open an early five-point lead (13-8). River would extend its lead to six (26-20) at the three-minute mark of the second after fellow senior Jack Schill knocked down threes on back-to-back possessions.
But the rest of the second frame would be all-EC. The
visiting five utilized sharp passing to get easy looks in outscoring Rocky
River, 8-1, over the balance of the half, and the Pirates found themselves
down, 28-27, at the break.
The early minutes of the third quarter were an even exchange. With 91 seconds remaining in the period, a Ruma 3-point attempt was in the air and the scoreboard showed a 38-37 advantage for the Panthers. Ruma’s effort from distance splashed down thru snapped nylon to give River a two-point lead (40-38). After a two-point EC counter, sophomore guard Braden Spies drained a three of his own, and that sent the Pirates into the fourth leading by three, 43-40.
Albeit into the fourth against a program that had dominated River in recent seasons. Elyria Catholic went into Friday’s affair having won 7-of-its-last-8 against the Pirates – with five of those victories being by margins of 15 points or more.
That history would be old news to River’s rolling five on the floor in the final eight minutes of Friday’s game. The Pirates effectively countered an early Panther bucket when Tommy Bebie knifed his way to the rim on an aggressive layup at 5:22. Twenty-two seconds later, the Rocky River lead was nine (49-40).
The Panthers would get as close as three (51-48) the rest of
the way, but the home five prevailed, taking full advantage of EC foul trouble
(going 12-of-16 at the line) and bearing down on defense. A ballhawking Pirate bunch
would force five Panther turnovers in the final quarter after Elyria had
committed but seven miscues through three periods.
The endgame was a proverbial boat race.
With a Pirate ship in front all the way.
CANNON FIRE …
BUCS IN THE BOX: Tommy Ruma went 6-of-7 from the floor in hitting 20 points for a second straight game (21 vs. John Hay—Dec. 28). At the foul line, after going 9-for-12 against EC, Ruma is now18-for-his-last-23 (78.3%). Charlie Hudson logged 10 points, five rebounds and three assists on Friday. Robby Lang went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in adding eight points and five boards. Braedon Spies finished with eight points, two assists and three steals.
TRIPLE THREAT: Junior forward Charlie Hudson went into Friday’s contest leading Rocky River in points, rebounds and assists. The three-sport (football, basketball, lacrosse) standout went in averaging 13 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game.
YOUNG BUCS: In developmental action on Friday, River’s freshman team lost to EC, 51-39. Ian Walsh had 10 points to lead the Pirates, now 2-5. The Rocky River JV fell to 1-6 on the season with a 44-42 loss in overtime. Will DeClerck tallied 10 for the Maroon & White.
by Skip Snow
# # # pirates # # #