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Pirates boys and girls get varsity sweep at Bay

{if you only use two photos, use the Ryan McCrone and Lucy Grierson pics}

By Ryan Kaczmarski

It was a good night for Rocky River High School, as the both the boys and girls varsity basketball teams visited Bay High School Friday night, and came out with victories.

In the boys game, Rocky River edged out a 44-40 victory with tough defense, timely free throws and a little luck.

The win gives the Pirates a record of 7-5 overall and a West Shore Conference-leading record of 7-1, but head coach Michael Murray knew that his team could have easily lost the close-scoring game.

“First of all, you have to credit (Bay’s) defense,” he said. “I thought they did a great job staying in front of us and they turned up the pressure there in the fourth quarter. For us, we didn’t handle the basketball very well. If you add those two things together – we had trips (down the court) where we didn’t even get shots up, and to shoot 8 for 11 at the line, be in the double-bonus (at the end) and have the lead – to be able to control the basketball, is something we’re going to have to work on.”

With the Pirates leading 42-40, and 17.3 seconds left in the game, Bay head coach Jason Frolo took the first of four consecutive time outs trying to get a scoring play together, with only the result of sending Rocky River freshman Eric Jones to the free throw line with 0.9 seconds left on the clock. Jones sunk both shots, sticking the final nail in the Rockets’ coffin.

“(Jones) is a kid mature beyond his years,” Murray said. “The other thing is, we kept playing pretty consistently on defense, we kept challenging them and I thought we were pretty physical. Even though we were having trouble offensively, we were still making them take time to score. We were still getting multiple possessions and they turned (the ball) over a couple of times.”

The loss gives the Rockets an overall record of 7-6 (3-5 in the WSC), and Frolo knows his team had just as much of a chance to win the game down the stretch, as Rocky River.

“In this (game), it was almost like, ‘Who is not going to mess up?’”, Frolo said. “We messed up.”

The Rockets had their chances throughout the fourth quarter, where the score stayed at 34-30 before the Rockets made a 10-point push in the final minutes of the game.

“When it’s 34-30 for the longest time and we keep getting stop after stop, we need to get a basket,” Frolo said. “We were never able to do that, and finally the stalemate broke and were were down six, seven, eight, nine points, and all of a sudden, we have to scramble.

“We, for sure, had our fair share of opportunities.”

Rocky River’s Ryan McCrone led all scoring with 19 points in the game, followed by Bay’s duo of Scott Rapps with 11 and Terry Carras with 10.

The girls contest, which was played as the opening act to the boys game, was not as close, as the Pirates won handily 36-28.

The victory gave the Pirates an overall record of 5-9 (5-2 in the WSC). Having a record under .500 is something relatively new for Rocky River.

“We graduated six phenomenal seniors from last year, and it wasn’t like it was one year, they’ve been playing varsity basketball for three years – and some of them all four years – of high school,” Rocky River head coach Mike Sislowski said. “It has been a major change in the program, but the one thing they left us with is that legacy of high expectations, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This year’s team has picked up right there, and plays great defense.

“We’re young. We play three freshmen in our rotation,” he added. “We have seniors who have waited for this opportunity and, really, this whole year has been about growing on the offensive end and identifying ourselves with great defense. The defense has been there all year. We get victories on the nights we can score.”

The Pirates have relied on more of a total team effort this season, not having that go-to star on the roster.

“There’s no replacing (2012 graduate and University of Miami (OH) player) Hannah McCue,” Sislowski said. “You don’t just throw someone out there and watch 20 points and 10 rebounds every night. When we say it’s a different type of team this year, that’s the change. It has to come from everyone.

“It’s really about leadership now. The person who’s stood out for us the past five ballgames is Annie Swartz. She’s taken on that leadership role and willed us to play great defense. It’s become contagious, and for me as a coach I look and say, ‘There are good things to come if our team continues to play this way.’”

Bay senior Claire Werblak led all scoring in the game with 15 points, while Carolyn Farling and Lucy Grierson each had 11 for the Pirates.

 

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