Rocky River City Schools News Article

Thrill-age in the Village! Berg ices Rockets with 55-foot buzzer-beater as Pirates earn 47-44 victory

Hakeem Zayed

BAY VILLAGE, Ohio (Feb. 9, 2024) -- The time was 7:15 p.m. The place was Bay Village, specifically the hardwood home floor of the Bay Rockets. Those are the when and the where of Pirate Pandemonium, a phenomenal finish now etched into the history of the ongoing saga that is Pirates vs. Rockets, the War by the Shore.

Pirate Pandemonium is now part of the Lore by the Shore. The most recent chapter of that story had the Rocky River Pirates scuffling in the Friday road return game after toppling their Bay Rocket rivals 66-48 at home last month (Jan. 5). A defensive back-and-forth was composed of short momentum runs for each side until the Rockets looked to have the last laugh when they established a 7-point lead (44-37) by the final minute of the final frame. In thrilling fashion, the Pirates would score the game's final 10 points -- all in a span of 54 seconds -- as Rocky River defeated Bay 47-44.  

The final second of game amounted to the final 55 feet of the hard-fought rivalry tussle. Fifty feet of a beyond-half-court heave from the left hand of freshman guard Danny Berg.

Berg's triple caromed off the window and found twine, completing the comeback -- unscrambling a 44-44 by the Shore -- and igniting Pirate Pandemonium after a marvelously improbable triumph on the Bay hardwood. His triple goes down as a home run. And it was followed by every single Double-R student in the stands flooding the floor and celebrating with a jubilant River five.

Rocky River (9-8, 5-2 Great Lakes Conference West Division) led the contest by one (17-16) at the half and by two (30-28) heading into the fourth quarter. But the Pirates had endured more than a few ineffective stretches on offense, and they were about to go into another one.

After committing only two turnovers through the first three periods, the Buccaneers committed four while the Rockets were pulling away over the first seven minutes of the fourth. Evan Alexy, Max Cockburn, and Malachi Coursen all had four points or more over that span and appeared to be headed toward a 1-1 split in their season series with River.

It was two free throws by Coursen that gave Bay (6-12, 1-4 GLC West) a 7-point lead at the 1:02-mark. The Sons of Blackbeard countered with a top-of-the-key 3 by Berg at the 54-second mark. After a timeout, Rocky River got a backcourt steal by Michael Swallow which fed into a possession yielding two free throws for Julian Patti.

Patti made the first but missed the second. Fellow senior Ryan Ricketti came up with a big offensive rebound, and that kept the Rockets back on their heels trying to defend something that might be slipping away. Enter another senior, Jaden Charney, who had given the Pirates a lift early in the game but had missed most of the fourth quarter in foul trouble.

After Ricketti's rebound, the Double-R circuited the orb around the perimeter, from Ricketti-to-Patti-to-Berg-to Charney. And Charney stepped into a 21-foot attempt. The 3-point effort ripped twine, knotting the affair at 44-44 with 21 seconds remaining. The Pirates then got a stop on what would be Bay's final possession. With the game clock winking down past the 5-second mark, Ricketti stripped the ball away on a drive in the lane. A scramble for the ball ensued. And Rocky River then got  a break.

Coach Mike Murray called timeout while Patti and Swallow looked to corral the ball. The timeout, and by extension, possession was awarded to the Pirates. But actual possession of the ball at the time was certainly questionable at best. But also, at minimum Rocky River was on a roll, making its own luck.

After that timeout -- with 2.2 seconds showing on the clock -- Ricketti inbounded the ball to Berg, and the southpaw dribbled his way to to some forward momentum between two Bay defenders. And then the southpaw let it fly, with that momentum walking him to the side of the Rocket logo at midcourt.

The basketball and hopes on both sides hung in midair for perhaps the longest second in the history of the rivalry. The coordinates of the arc were on the money -- out of midair and on the square.

Danny-time. Danny-where. Danny Berg, for 3.

And in a flash, the midcourt logo was swarmed by the Pirate faithful. From the perspective at the scorer's table, it was student body right, in an exuberant celebration of Rocky River's fastest 10 points of the season at just the right time.

And in just the right place.

Berg will long be remembered for the final 55 feet of the rally. But Pirate Pandemonium was in reality a 10-handed Pirate push. Berg 3s and a Charney trey. A Patti free throw. A Ricketti rebound and a steal. A Swallow steal. Take away one of those, and that final shot would not have been an act of athletic heroism but one of empty desperation.

That this was the former made for one very memorable minute.


For the game, Bay outshot River 43% to 34%. The Pirates committed just six turnovers in the game, were a plus-3 in that department, and scored 13 points off Rocket miscues. River edged Bay 30-25 on the boards. Individually, the Buccaneers top performers were Julian Patti (12 points, five rebounds), Jaden Charney (11P, plus-17), Ryan Ricketti (7P), and Hakeem Zayed (2P, 10R, four assists). Max Cockburn (11P), Evan Alexy (8P, 5R, three blocks), and Collin Melvin (6P, 8R) paced the Rockets. ... Rocky River is now 4-1 across its last five games against Bay.

ON DECK: For the Sons of Blackbeard, Friday's contest marked their third straight road game. Rocky River will close out its road stretch with a fourth tilt away from home when it travels to Shaker Heights for a Tuesday night (7:30 p.m.) non-conference game against the Shaker Heights Red Raiders.

by Skip Snow

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