ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- The Pirates closed out their regular season with a 67-35 win over the Kennedy Eagles. The Saturday non-conference tilt featured dialed-in Rocky River shooting and a sharp transition game fed by 24 JFK turnovers.
Paced by senior Robby Lang going 9-of-10 from the floor, River shot 49.2% (30-of-61) in winning its third consecutive game. Lang piled up 21 points in just 18 minutes to continue his February assault on the scoring column. Nearly all of his nine buckets were set up by the masterful passing of Braedon Spies, who logged 11 assists on the night. With seven steals, Spies was the pace-setter for a ball-hawking Pirate defense that helped set up 29 fast-break points.
After a slow start in the second quarter, Rocky River (12-9) found itself up by just one (20-19) a third of the way through that frame. But pressure defense, crisp passing, and dominant rebounding fueled a 20-7 run to close out the period, and the home five took a 40-26 lead into its locker room at halftime.
The third quarter went sideways for the Eagles, who failed to make a basket while coughing up eight turnovers. The Roundball Raiders shut out Kennedy 14-0 in that third period and would cruise the rest of the way.
For the game, River cranked out 23 assists. That assist work -- along with 13 offensive rebounds -- helped set up 52 points in paint. The Pirates had 17 steals, which fed into a 30-4 edge in points off turnovers.
Kennedy was held to just 40 attempts from the field (15 baskets, 37.5%). The Pirates out-rebounded the Eagles 33-21.
JFK's top performer was Brian Brazzell-Johnson, who went 8-of-12 from the field in collecting 17 points and six rebounds.
Rocky River got 21 points from Lang and 11 from Spies. Junior Gavin O'Brien added seven points and three steals. Julian Patti (three points, six rebounds), Censier Williams (six points), and Hakeem Zayed (six points) led the Buccaneer bench bunch.
The contest marked the final one on home hardwood for Lang and Spies and fellow seniors Patrick Lange, Justin Gina, Ian Tomsik, and Zach Wearsch. Now that group and the rest of the Sons of Blackbeard turn their attention to the Buckeye State brackets. On Tuesday, Rocky River will travel to Lodi, Ohio, to meet Cloverleaf in an opening-round game of the DII Region 5 Stow District Tournament
.CANNON FIRE ...
The Double-R JV closed out its season with a 41-20 win over JFK. The Pirates' scoring leaders were Jamal Mansour (12 points), Jaden Charney (seven), and Joe Schill (seven).
THRICE IS NICE:
Rocky River's three-game win streak matches its longest of the season. The Pirates also won three straight from Jan. 14-18. River closed out its regular season by going 5-1 over its last six games. ... With Saturday's win, Rocky River closes out the 2021-22 season with a 9-3 record at home. That stands as the program's best mark at the Corner of Wagar & Detroit since 2018-19 (9-3).SENIOR SURGE:
With Saturday's performance in the books, senior Robby Lang has now scored 125 points in six February games (20.8 average). The power forward has gone 50-of-76 (65.8%) from the field over that stretch.
by Skip Snow