ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- On Tuesday, the Pirates returned to game action after a 13-day hiatus due to COVID-19 protocols. A roster-depleted Rocky River squad hosted the Cardinals of Shaw High School in a matinee contest at the Corner of Wagar & Detroit, and the Cardinals prevailed by a final score of 69-49.
Getting solid production in the paint and tremendous defensive stops throughout, the Cardinals outshot the Pirates, 53% to 32% from the field. Shaw leveraged a turnover plus (turnovers: SHS 13, RRHS 20) into a 12-point advantage on the scoreboard (26 points off turnovers to River's 14). And the Cardinals made the most of the middle periods, outscoring the Pirates, 33-16, over the second and third quarters of play.
"We couldn't convert in the paint," said Head Coach Mike Murray, whose River Five last played on Dec. 15. "And turnovers were once again a problem. We can't keep committing 20-plus turnovers in games; that's a problem we need to solve in growing as a team."
Rocky River (1-3) has committed 20-plus turnovers in each of its three losses and is now averaging 21.8 turnovers per game. Pirate miscues fed the Cardinals bolting to an early lead on Tuesday, but 3-pointers by Braedon Spies, Tommy Bebie, and Justin Gina got the Double-R back into the game. River led the contest, 13-12, after the opening eight-minute quarter.
River would go on to post a sold line from beyond the 3-point arc (10-of-23, 43.5%). It was inside of 19 feet-9 inches where the Pirates faltered. On 2-point attempts, the home five went just 4-of-21 (19%). The Cardinals took advantage of some of that shaky marksmanship on a 13-0 run in the second quarter, and by halftime Shaw led, 31-20.
In the third frame, the Pirates got as close as seven points (35-28), but the visiting five answered with a 10-0 run to essentially put the game on ice. The Cardinals led by 16 (45-29) heading into the fourth quarter. That fourth frame would be a display of bench depth -- albeit a high-scoring one -- for both sides. Shaw outscored Rocky River, 24-20, in the fourth.
For the game, the Cardinals got 15 points and nine rebounds from senior forward Randy Harris, who went 7-of-8 from the floor. Sophomore guard De'Lon Bush was a force defensively, and he gave the Cardinals nine points, five assists, and three steals in 29 minutes. Shaw out-rebounded River, 33-26. The Cardinals went 30-of-57 from the field; they scored 44 of their 69 points in the paint, and their 69 points marked the most the Pirates have yielded in a game this season.
Rocky River got 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists from junior center Robby Lang. Junior guard Braedon Spies added 11 points.
Ian Tomsik led a bench bunch which figured more prominently in the Pirate rotation due to a few players being on the shelf. Tomsik scored eight points.
"I thought Ian's offense and defense was a bright spot for us," said Murray.
The bench effort also included sophomore Marshall Walker logging minutes in a varsity debut and junior Justin Gina registering a plus-3 in 13 minutes of action.
In a game always full of plusses and minuses, Murray and his coaching staff will no doubt find plenty to either try and accentuate or minimize as the 2020-21 season moves forward into a new calendar year. But one big plus on Tuesday was undeniable: being back on the hardwood after a near-two-week layoff was a good thing.
Hopefully the next wait for Pirate Hoops won't be as long. Rocky River is scheduled to continue its season with another nonconference game on Saturday. The Pirates are slated to host Padua at 1:30 p.m.
by Skip Snow
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