Rocky River City Schools News Article

Champs! Pirates sink EC, earn GLC West crown

2024 GLC West Champs

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (Feb. 23, 2024) -- Rocky River closed out its regular-season campaign Friday, and the Pirates did so in style. Winning their fourth consecutive game while clinching a Great Lakes Conference West Division title, the Maroon & White defeated Elyria Catholic 62-56 in a charged atmosphere at Rocky River Gymnasium.

In a remarkable back-and-forth tussle rife with lead changes but almost none larger than four points, the Pirates earned some retribution for a 66-53 loss in Elyria last month (Jan. 12). The Double-R committed just 11 turnovers in the game, and they got a combined 45 points from members of the class of 2024 playing their final contest at the Corner of Wagar & Detroit.

The Sons of Blackbeard bolted their way to a 7-0 lead at the game's outset. But Elyria Catholic (9-13, 4-4 GLC West) battled back by going on a dominant 15-2 run. Rocky River (13-9, 6-2) went into the second quarter trailing 15-11. The EC five held sway for much of the second stanza, but late-quarter 3-pointers by Jaden Charney, Will Schill, and Jeff Mazlar helped vault the Pirates into a 32-32 tie with the Panthers at halftime.

With both sides having a primary scorer slinging key buckets -- Charney for Rocky River and Jacob Radcliffe for Elyria Catholic -- and both sides getting repeated stops when down a possession, the game developed into a 10-round bout between two middleweights landing punches and yielding not an inch. Charney drained three triples and went 7-of-10 from the floor in scoring 20 points to lead the Buccaneers. Radcliffe hit five treys, went 9-of-15 from the field, and torched River for 24 points.

Both 20-point scorers had capable teammates turning in high-leverage plays at both ends of the court, and a big, energetic crowed was treated to scoreboard digits that climbed in unison. A.J. Defazio filed eight points, seven rebounds, and four assists for the visitors. Julian Patti countered with 12, eight, and eight for the home five. Grayson Kramer blocked five shots for the Panthers. Michael Swallow registered 5P and three steals for the Pirates. Teddy Budinger and Matisse Williams ledgered 8P each; Danny Berg and Hakeem Zayed combined for 12P, 7R, and 4A. EC tallied the final five points of the third, and the Panthers went into the final quarter leading 43-42.

The fourth quarter alone would see eight ties and lead changes. Two of River bigger buckets were on 3-pointers knocked down by Charney. Much of the rest of the Pirates' heroics were turned in by a player named Whoever Wasneeded.

Rocky River got sharp passes, alert defensive plays and big rebounds up and down its roster. Charney's second triple of the fourth lifted the Raiders to a five-point cushion -- at 59-54 -- and at that juncture in such a tight exchange, five points had the feel of perhaps a dozen. After faltering on early looks from the free-throw line, River got big late throws from Charney and Patti.

They were the final jabs of a bout that went to the Pirates in a decision. As had five GLC West games before it.

Much hard work in and around the rim was put in by both sides all night, from tip-to-horn. And at the rim is where the most memorable moments were registered after the final digits were frozen on the board by the expiration of 32 hard-charging minutes.

In its final home game, when your squad makes that final play at the rim, and it is with scissors in hand -- clipping some title twine -- something has gone right that night. Something has gone right that season.

As it did for the 2024 GLC West champion Rocky River Pirates.

by Skip Snow

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