ROCKY RIVER, Ohio – Ranked Holy Name (No. 7 in the most recent Associated Press Ohio Division II poll) defeated Rocky River, 76-68, in Great Lakes Conference action on Tuesday.
With the victory, the Green Wave (15-2, 9-1 GLC) remained tied with Bay atop the GLC standings and finalized a season sweep of the Pirates. But Tuesday’s game was, in a sense, one that got away for Rocky River. The Pirates went toe-to-toe with the top-10 foe from Parma Heights and did so throughout the game. Every quarter was played in what was essentially a two-score game situation.
For the Pirates, those two scores would never come. They remain locked in the box score on the wrong side of an inexplicable performance on uncontested 15-footers.
For Rocky River (6-11, 3-7) went a mere 8-of-22 (36.4 percent) at the free-throw line on Tuesday.
Those struggles at the line undid an otherwise excellent performance for the River offense against the high-pressure defense of the Green Wave. The Pirates shot 52.5 percent (21-of-40) from the floor and 40 percent (6-of-15) from 3-point range. Those shot totals are depressed due to the game being rife with turnovers – the two teams battled at a frantic pace and got off just 86 shot attempts against 56 turnovers (28 each team).
Credit the Maroon & White for holding Holy Name to 76 points: the Green Wave averaged over 100 points per game over their previous half-dozen contests, and on Jan. 9 they beat Rocky River, 105-77.
The Pirates were tagged with 24 turnovers in that one. Tuesday’s tilt at Rocky River Gymnasium was a game riddled with even more miscues but on both sides, thanks to a big effort by the Pirate defense.
“They are a great team,” said Head Coach Mike Murray of the Green Wave. “They can score in so many ways, but I though our defense was sound most of the night.”
The night began with an even exchange of buckets through the early minutes. A pair of Grant Eversman treys on back-to-back possessions unentangled the score and put River up by four (17-13). But the Green Wave countered with a 9-0 run to close out first quarter with a 22-17 lead.
Rocky River started having some problems at the charity stripe in the second quarter, after which – even with some excellent play by John Ruma on offense and a swarming unit 10-deep on defense – Holy Name led, 39-35.
River continued to hound and harass Holy Name in the third. The Pirates briefly took the lead – at 44-43 – but would finish the frame down two (56-54). With both teams in or near the bonus at the end of the third, it was clear that free throws would become a key factor in the fourth.
A pair of Green Wave threes in the third minute of the fourth vaulted the visitors to a 64-58 lead. With Holy Name hitting from the foul line where River was missing (Holy Name went 20-of-26, 76.9 percent at the line), the Green Wave was able to maintain a two-to-three possession lead through the middle minutes of the final quarter. Rocky River twice got as close as five, but Holy Name closed out the eventual eight-point win, its closest margin of victory since Jan. 7.
The Green Wave were led by their all-Ohio shooting guard Dwayne Cohill, who went 11-of-13 from the floor (including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc) and 10-of-11 at the line in piling up 35 points. The Pirates countered with a fine performance from senior forward Oliver Clingain who scored 23 points on a 10-of-17 effort from the floor.
Clingain was backed up by John Ruma (11 points, five assists) and Grant Eversman (10 points).
Murray noted the number of turnovers as short-circuiting an otherwise efficient night on offense: “When we were strong on the ball, I thought we were able to get really good looks at the basket.”
But Murray admitted disappointment on what were the Pirates’ best looks of the night: 22 free throws. Fourteen of those were missed.
Ascribe Holy Name’s free-throw shooting to River’s attempts and you get 8-9 more points for the Pirates.
And perhaps a game recap accompanied by photos of Rocky River students storming the court after a colossal upset.
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