Rocky River City Schools News Article

Demon-ized: Pirates fall to Westlake 49-33

Westlake Gymnasium

WESTLAKE, Ohio (Jan. 26, 2024) -- Rocky River returned to Great Lakes Conference West Division action Friday. Hopefully, the Pirates stayed warm on the short bus ride to Westlake High School. Because once they got to the home of the Demons, it was nothing but an ice-cold night for the Buccaneers.  

In a wire-to-wire 49-33 win for the home five, the Double-R was doubled up in shooting percentages. And not coincidentally, doubled up on the scoreboard in each of the game's first three quarters, as Westlake earned a split in the two-game season series between the west side neighbors. Rocky River (6-6, 3-2 GLC West) went just 9-of-34 on 2-point attempts and 2-of-14 from beyond the arc as it shot 22.9% (11-of-48). And those numbers were colored by a solid-shooting fourth-quarter exchange in bench minutes.

From in and around the paint, midrange, and the perimeter. On catch-and-shoots and off the dribble. Off screens, on cuts through the lane, and on the break. Pirate shooting was ice cold from the outset -- 1 of 11 in the first quarter -- and warmed but few precious degrees from there. And the Double-R took good care of the roundball, committing just seven turnovers. It set up solid looks with good passing, often showing patience to break through a long and athletic Westlake perimeter defense which was shutting River down from distance.

"We just struggled all night offensively," said coach Mike Murray. "Our guys still battled and played hard, and we'll continue to put in the work and bounce back."

The Demons were solid in contesting shots and forcing the Pirates into a few too many low-yield looks. And they were on fire in shooting the ball at the other end. The Sons of Blackbeard would not not get their first field goal of the game until nearly seven minutes had gone by in the first frame. Westlake (7-7, 1-3) drained four triples in the second quarter, running a five-point lead (9-4) at the end of the first to a 13-point lead (24-11) by halftime. Junior Evan Hargett and senior Derek Occhipinti each filed eight points in the second period.

A Hargett runner in the lane capped off a 7-2 Demon run over the opening 3-1/2 minutes of play in the third, and the rout was on. WHS outscored RRHS 15-7 in that third quarter (30-14 over the combined middle frames of the second and third), setting up a bench-opportunity fourth for both sides.

Hargett finished with a game-high 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor (including 3-of-4 from distance). He also had seven rebounds. Occhipinti finished with 12P, 8R, and six assists. As a team, the Demons shot 50% (19-of-38) from the field, 42.9% (6-of-14) on 3s, and 83.3% (5-of-6) from the charity stripe. Their 50% doubled up River's 22.9% mark. Their 57.9% effective field-goal rate -- which accounts for the relative risk/reward of 3-pointers -- doubled up the Pirates' 25% mark.

Rocky River's starting five combined for just 19 points. Danny Berg and Michael Swallow each registered six points. Julian Patti had 3P, 7R, and three blocks. The Buccaneers were a minus-12 on the boards (22-34) and a plus-8 in turnovers (7-15).

River, which had beaten Westlake 55-51 in a Dec. 15 overtime game, has now lost three consecutive games.

Since 2016, the Pirates are a slightly chilled 3-8 against Westlake. Friday night's affair was something colder still.


The River freshman squad netted a 42-40 overtime conquest against the Demons. Charlie Fitz and Mateo Roselli logged 12 points each. ... A 21-point third quarter fueled a 58-42 Westlake triumph in the junior varsity game. Brandon Nazette (16P) and Colin Hunt (10P) led the River effort.

Rocky River 22.9% shooting performance marked its worst accuracy mark since Feb. 24, 2022, in a postseason loss to Lutheran West (16.7%). It marked the Pirates' coldest shooting in a regular-season game in nearly three years (18.9% vs. Holy Name, Jan. 29, 2021).

ON DECK: Friday's game at WHS marked the open of a stretch that will have the Roundball Raiders on the road for 6-of-7 games. That stretch will continue Tuesday night at Avon (7:15 p.m.). River's only home game until Feb. 16 will be on Feb. 2 (North Olmsted, 7 p.m.).

by Skip Snow

# # # Pirates # # #

© 2024. Rocky River City School District. All Rights Reserved.
View text-based website