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Pirates top Falcons to move on in district tourney
RR Boys Basketball
OBERLIN, Ohio (Feb. 27, 2024) -- The Pirates of February have played like a team destined to play some hoops in the month of March. After a 50-40 district tournament triumph at Firelands Tuesday, March is exactly where the Sons of Blackbeard are headed.

With a strong defensive performance and a solid fourth quarter, Rocky River -- the No. 36 seed in the 62-team Northeast District -- ousted No. 29 Firelands. The Pirates now move on to a Friday -- March 1 -- district quarterfinal at No. 15 Brookside.

The Maroon & White will head to Brookside with a season-best five-game win streak in tow.

Rocky River (14-9) coughed up a three-point halftime lead (23-20) when Firelands (13-10) opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run. The Buccaneers battled back with a surge of their own. Big late-quarter 3-point plays -- one on a Jaden Charney two-and-a-toss and one on a Jeff Maslar twine-finder from beyond the arc -- were the highlights of a 13-4 River run to close out the third.

In Tuesday's game, Maslar's triple was practically a unicorn. The Pirates misfired badly on a half-dozen or more attempts from distance that either missed everything or caught just the top coat of paint on the rim. They made only two 3s in the game. And that's two more than what the Falcons managed.

The late-third move vaulted the visiting five to a 36-32 lead. In the fourth the Pirates fed the big bodies underneath, threading masterful passes from the wing and setting up Gio Lizzini and Julian Patti with inside looks. Lizzini filed six points in the fourth and 10 for the game.

One of Lizzini's buckets came at the 2:05-mark, ending a stretch of momentum for Firelands and putting the Double-R up by six (46-40). The Pirates held the Falcons scoreless the rest of the way to clock the victory.

Jaden Charney led a trip of River scorers in double figures for the game; he had 14 points and was a key part of River's sharp passing attack. Patti ledgered 11 points, and Lizzini had his 10. All 10 of Lizzini's points came in the second half.

Senior forward Jim Aunspaw had 14 points to lead the Falcons, who went into Tuesday's bracket game with an 8-3 mark at home. [Full game stats unavailable at time of publication.]

The Pirates now march further along in the DII Northeast 4 bracket. On into March, with a swagger in their step.

by Skip Snow

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