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River finally falls, goes 1-1 in home tourney
Will DeClerck
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (Dec. 28, 2022) -- The Pirates closed out the 2022 calendar year by clocking a runner-up finish in the RRHS-hosted Holiday Classic, played Tuesday-Wednesday at Rocky River Gymnasium.

Rocky River downed John Hay 69-30 in Tuesday's opening-round contest. The victory marked the Pirates' sixth in a row to start the season. River's string of wins came to an end in Wednesday's tournament title game when the Raiders were undone 65-39 by a lightning-quick Avon Lake five. The Sons of Blackbeard rocked back-and-forth, logging a season-high in points Tuesday and a season-low Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Pirates rode a run of 24-6 to open a substantial lead on the Hay Hornets. River buried the visitors with a 22-4 third quarter that saw the Maroon & White go 9-of-17 (52.9%) from the floor. For the game, the Pirates outshot the Hornets 44% to 28%; River dominated on the boards, collecting 42 rebounds to Hay's 22, and the Pirates were a plus-9 (13 to 22) in turnover margin. A season-high 16 offenseive rebounds led to Rocky River logging a season-high 23 second-chance points.

Also on Tuesday, the Pirates went 5-of-13 (38.5%) from 3-point range. That performance continued a string of fine distance shooting for the Buccaneers. From Dec. 9-27, the dialed-in Double-R five shot a robust 34.9% (29-of-83) from 3-point range. Against tremendously quick, ball-hawking guard play from the Shoremen, that run came crashing to the ground on Wednesday.

In the tournament championship game -- pitting Rocky River against 7-0 Avon Lake -- the Pirates went just 1-of-14 (7.1%) from distance. In a game controlled by the Shoremen all the way, Avon Lake dominated the offensive glass and outshot River 43% to 30%. The Pirates' 30% (15-of-50) marked a season-low.

The Shoremen got 17 points and 10 rebounds from senior forward Isaac Richardson. He was one of three ALHS players to clock 15-or-more points in the contest (Peyton Lerch, Matthew Stuewe).

Over the two tournament games, Rocky River (6-1) was paced by seniors Will DeClerck (25 points, 17 rebounds) and Gavin O'Brien (13P) and juniors Julian Patti (22P, 8R) and Hakeem Zayed (10P, 13R). DeClerck was selected to the all-Holiday Classic team.


Rocky River's game-by-game account dates back to 2005, and this season's six wins to start the season represents the program's best start over that available-records span. The streak marks the program's longest since the 2011-12 Pirates won seven straight from Dec. 23-Jan. 24. In the prior season (2010-11), Rocky River won 13 consecutive games.

The Basketball Buccaneers are slated to return to action with a Tuesday home game against the Fairview Warriors. The Battle-of-Wagar-210, Great Lakes Conference West Division game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.

by Skip Snow

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