ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – The Rocky River Pirates pulled off a swashbuckling postseason victory on their home hardwood, defeating the Keystone Wildcats, 64-38, on Friday.
Rocky River (14-9) got a career-high 30 points from junior forward Charlie Hudson, and for a third straight contest a swarming Pirate defense held an opponent under 35 points. Rocky River led the game wire-to-wire to claim its fourth consecutive victory and advance to what marks the program’s first district semifinal since 2013.
With a fast, confident start on offense and a pair of early blocked shots by sophomore forward Robby Lang, the Pirates had Keystone (12-12) down, 10-4, by the mid-point of the opening quarter. A Braeden Spies trey early in the second lifted River’s lead to double digits (21-10). After another bucket for the home five, the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run to get within six (23-17) by the mid-point of the second.
Rocky River countered Keystone’s surge with a Jack Schill 3-pointer from the left corner. That Schill triple was the start of a remarkable run for the Rocky River offense. Crisp ball movement across every square foot of the forecourt led to open looks the rest of the night. A handful of possessions could’ve been played with a deflated basketball, with the orb going from player-to-player, not touching the floor – often in lengthy possessions and more often still in possessions punctuated by an open look and a Pirate basket.
If Pirate field goals were the punctuation marks, Charlie Hudson baskets – five of which were from beyond the arc – were the exclamation marks. Hudson scored inside and out and five times (in six attempts) from the free-throw line. His 30 points passed Tommy Ruma’s 28 from Jan. 28 (at Fairview) as River’s single-game high for the season.
Pirates led by 10 (30-20) at halftime, by 17 (39-22) at the mid-point of the
third and by 20 (52-32) before the fourth frame was more than a couple minutes
The 64-38 final marked River’s second 25-plus margin of victory in as many games – the Pirates defeated Kennedy, 65-33, in their previous game on Feb. 21. The Sons of Blackbeard also won their two games prior; they have now won four in a row.
Friday, the Pirates out-shot the Wildcats, 55% (21-of-38) to 40% (16-of-40).
River was a plus-3 in turnover margin (11 to 14) and a whopping plus-14 (30-16)
in rebounding margin. Hudson and Lang were strong on the boards in leading the
latter effort. Lang finished with 14 points, his most in a game since Jan. 10
(14 vs. Fairview).
Rocky River is now bound for North Ridgeville High School, the site of the district tournament’s final four. The third-seeded Pirates will face a Great Lakes Conference foe – the second-seeded Holy Name Green Wave – in a Thursday semifinal at 7 p.m.
Holy Name will take a swashbuckling performance.
… Something for which these Pirates are familiar.
by Skip Snow
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