Rocky River City Schools News Article

Westside story: Pirates, Demons rumble in OT showdown; River prevails 55-51

Julian Patti

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (Dec. 15, 2023) -- In a second scrappy, every-possession-contested-to-the-hilt battle ending in overtime in as many years, Rocky River defeated Westlake 55-51 Friday. The game marked the Great Lakes Conference West Division opener for both teams and was River's home opener. And after a rollercoaster ride of spills, thrills, and shooting-slump chills, the Pirates were the side sending their fans home with an extra dose of holiday cheer

The Demons (3-1, 0-1 GLC West) shot lights-out in the first and fourth quarters. The Pirates (2-1, 1-0) were on target in the second but shot an anemic 21.4% (9-of-42) across the other three periods of regulation time. River then came through with a 2-for-3 field-goal performance -- alongside six free-throw tosses in eight tries -- in the overtime. And it all spelled a second home-floor, overtime win over Westlake in the last 368 days: River beat the Demons 54-48 in a similar gritty overtime contest on Dec. 12, 2022.

Rocky River was outshot 39% to 31%, and Westlake knocked down eight treys to the Pirates' six. But the Maroon & White made up ground in the turnover battle (plus-4) and on the glass (out-rebounding the Demons 39-32). Of the former, the Pirates committing just eight turnovers in such a physical tussle stands out as a mark of perseverance. Of the latter, the Double-R got to that plus-7 with a lunch-pail 19 boards coming on offense. That marks the most offensive rebounds the Pirates have had in a single games since Jan. 14 last season.

The Sons of Blackbeard scuffled early, falling in an eight-point hole (12-4) by the mid-point of the first quarter. Sharp shooting got the Buccaneers back in the game in the second. In that stanza, River went 7-of-12 from the field and knocked down two triples. One of those 3-pointers came from Jaden Charney, giving the home five its first lead of the contest at 23-22. The Pirates went into halftime leading 25-24.

Rocky River outscored Westlake 7-2 in the early minutes of the third, but another cold shooting spell got the Demons back into the contest. From late in the third to the end of regulation, neither side would lead by more-than-four points. Westlake forward Sam Brucchieri, who finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, knocked down 1-of-2 free throws with eight seconds remaining. That toss sent the game into overtime with the west-side neighbors tied 43-43.

The Pirates scored 12 points in the extra session: five each came from freshman Danny Berg and Charney, who each hit a 3 and made two free throws. For the game, Rocky River went 13-of-18 from the foul line. The Pirates outscored the Demons by a combined 25-5 in made free throws and second-chance points.

Berg's game was solid throughout, and he finished with 11 points and a pair of steals. He was a plus-8 in 23 minutes on the floor. Charney clocked 13 points and a pair of thefts. River's leading scorer was Julian Patti, who went just 7-of-22 from the field but managed a couple spurts where he put the Pirates on his back. Patti registered 15 points, 13 rebounds, and two steals. He now has a pair of double-doubles through the team's first three games.

Joe Schill and Michael Swallow had 6P each. Derek Occhipinti led Westlake with 13P.

Rocky River, which went 1-6 over seven games against Westlake from 2016-2022, has now taken two of the last three. Both in overtime fashion on River hardwood on the Corner of Wagar & Detroit. So yes, circle Jan. 26 -- the return game at WHS -- on your calendar. Because these two GLC West foes go at it with a lot of heart and hustle. And it's entertaining hoops worthy of the four-minute encores.

by Skip Snow

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