By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Rocky River Pirates started the game with a 10-0 run and never looked back, putting Padua away, 69-48, to set up a third meeting against the Bay Rockets tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Westlake High School for the Division II district semifinals.
With the Pirates’ last game being played on Feb. 17, Rocky River head coach Mike Murray knew his team needed to shake the rust off early.
“Weve been off for a while,” he said. “We wanted to get off to a good start. We just kept telling our kids, as the game approached, we really needed to (start fast) just to get in sync, because we haven’t been on the court for so long.
“That was really important for us,” Murray added. “I thought that ‘workman-like’ effort was there right from the start.”
The Pirates hit on three 3-point shots in the first quarter, going up 20-9, and extended their lead to 34-19 at the half. Rocky River’s lead was 51-28 at the end of three on their way to the 69-48 final score.
Rocky River’s defense held all but one of Padua’s players, Tyler Ptacek (with 23 points), to single-digit scoring.
“It’s not a game where you’re going to prevent them from taking shots,” Murray said. “Their guards are very skilled and they do a great job. We just wanted them to take tough shots, and I thought we did that and rebounded well.”
Johnathan Lihani and Ryan McCrone led the Pirates in scoring with 14 points each, followed by Cory Almandy and Joey Kinsley with nine points each. Michael Pavlik scored eight, Tim Smith had seven, Brian Thorn had four, Justin Seffernick had three and Michael Dickey chipped in with two for Rocky River.