For three quarters, last Friday night’s Fairview-Rocky River basketball game was up for grabs.
The visiting Warriors, despite their 2-8 record coming in, were matching the once-beaten Pirates basket for basket. They even took a lead late in the third quarter, 39-37, on a 3-pointer out of the corner from John Miles.
Then came the fourth quarter.
Up by only two points, the Pirates made the Warriors pay for their turnovers. They used a 12-2 run to take control and came away with a 64-48 West Shore Conference win to stay within a half game of Avon for first place.
That win, along with a 47-36 win over Valley Forge earlier in the week, put the Pirates at 9-1 for the first half of the season. Saturday night at Brecksville, however, River was outscored in the first three quarters and dropped a 60-49 decision to the Bees, capping off a three games in five days stretch.
Fairview had another tough loss earlier in the week as well, losing in the final seconds at Brooklyn, 64-61. The Warriors returned to WSC play last night at Vermilion and will host Avon Friday night.
River hosted Firelands last night in league action and will hit the road to face a very dangerous North Ridgeville squad Friday night. The Rangers defeated Westlake, 54-50, last week in a non-conference game and dropped a 64-57 game at Midview in the WSC.
Last Friday night, Fairview coach Pete Maienknecht found plenty of positive things about his team’s performance. He said the Warriors are on the cusp of winning some of the tight games they’ve been in this season.
“Every game, we’ve had that one quarter where we just lose a bit of our consistency,” Maienknecht said. “We lose a little bit of our focus, a little bit of our execution and it burns us.
“We had just taken the lead in the third quarter and had outscored them in the second quarter, so I really liked our momentum,” he said. “The guys are competing, we’re battling. We’re doing some good things, and we kind of have Rocky River on the ropes.
“But then I thought we started to play a little bit too much ‘hero basketball.’ We were forcing some things instead of doing things as a team. John is knocking down shots and so is Sean Faska. At that point, we’ve got to keep working hard to get those guys looks.
“And I give Rocky River a lot of credit. They made us pay for making some bad decisions on the offensive end,” he added.
Fairview had 25 turnovers on the night, but made just three in the third quarter when they took that 39-37 lead. Rocky River recovered a bit to end the quarter, with Joey Kinsley scoring inside and Kyle Dunne hitting a trey of his own to make it 42-39, Pirates.
That’s when the turnover problem resurfaced for Fairview.
Kinsley converted a bucket off a Warrior miscue to make it 44-39 to start the fourth quarter. Miles responded with another 3-pointer – his fourth of the game – to cut it back to 44-42, River. But the turnovers kept coming and fueled the oncoming River run.
Jimmy Corrigan stole the ball and dished it off to Dunne for a layup. After another steal, Michael Pavlik followed up with a score inside and a free throw for a 3-point play and a 49-42 River lead with 6:09 left in the game.
Jake Belko hit a pair of free throws for Fairview, but a Dunne 3-pointer, an elbow jumper from Pavlik and another Pavlik score off a steal made it 56-44 with just over three minutes remaining. Pavlik nailed two more free throws with 2:39 left to push the Pirates out to a relatively safe 58-44 advantage.
A pair of Faska free throws and a drive for two by John Doherty would be all that Fairview could muster the rest of the way. River went six of nine from the charity stripe in the final 1:36 to put the game away.
Miles, a 5-9 sophomore, led the Warriors with 19 points and took game scoring honors as well. Faska chipped in with 12 points, while Belko and Doherty added eight and seven points, respectively. Belko also had nine rebounds.
Pavlik led a balanced attack for River with 14 points to go with six rebounds, followed by Dunne with 11. Kinsley and Corrigan each had 10 points for the Pirates, who also played some good defense when it counted, according to head coach Michael Murray.
“You have to give Fairview credit,” Murray said. “I thought they shot the ball very well and competed very well. They got into some different defenses and mixed it up. I thought their game plan was excellent, and Miles was making shots.
“We were able to make more plays in the second half,” Murray said. “Kyle Dunne came through for us. He came to me a said, ‘Coach, I’ll guard him,’ referring to No. 24 (Miles). So we made the switch, and Kyle was able to put some size on him and do a nice job there. James Meyer played some great defense as well and helped us get some easy buckets with his passing.
“Our kids are starting to understand where we’re going to make plays first, and that’s at the defensive end,” he said. “I thought our defense got better. They made a run, but we were able to make some stops and get some scores off our defense.”
In the loss to the Bees, Corrigan led the Pirates with 18 points, while Pavlik had 12 points.