ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- On Tuesday night at Rocky River Gymnasium, Rocky River defeated Hearts for Jesus Christ 70-52 to level its season mark at 8-8. Seniors Robby Lang and Braedon Spies combined for 31 points, as the Pirates won for a fifth time in their last seven games.
Rocky River (8-8) had a strong start to the game and a strong finish to the second quarter. Despite an early-second scoring drought of more-than-five minutes, the Maroon & White went into halftime leading 29-16. The Guardians displayed some push-back in the third stanza. Fueled by the 3-point shooting of George Cottenden, Hearts outscored River 16-8 over the first six minutes of the third. The Guardians would go into the fourth quarter trailing 42-35.
But beginning late in the third period and extending into the fourth, Rocky River reclaimed the momentum of the contest with hustling defense and crisp passing. The latter was something often lacking through the first three quarters, and River would finish the night with 17 turnovers. But numerous Hearts possessions were turned into steal-and-transition buckets over the last 10 minutes of the game. Stan Heuler, Spies, Justin Gina, and Julian Patti were in on multiple such plays. Overall in the second half, Rocky River clocked eight steals and 14 points off turnovers.
The Pirates' success in the transition game combined with its power on the boards (River out-rebounded the Guardians 48-31) led to 24 free-throw opportunities for the home five. The Double-R knocked down 16 (66.7%) of those uncontested 15-footers.
The Sons of Blackbeard went on a 12-2 run to start the fourth, and the final minutes ticked away without drama.
For the game, Rocky River shot 40% (24-of-60) from the field. The Guardians filed a 35.2% (19-of-54) figure. Guard Braedon Spies went 3-of-8 from distance as part of a 14-point night. In 26 minutes before fouling out, Spies was a plus-33 on the floor. He had 11 rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Forward Robby Lang finished with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field. Lang had nine rebounds; six of those were of the offensive variety -- River had 19 offensive rebounds on the night. Stan Heuler scored eight points. Cottenden cranked out a game-high 24 to lead the Guardians.
River's next game is slated for Friday against Bay (7:30 p.m.).
by Skip Snow
# # # RR # # #