River recovers, trounces Buckeye Local
HANNIBAL — By his own admission, Mark Romick was quite calm and collected when he addressed his team at halftime of Wednesday’s game against Buckeye Local.
Actually, the veteran River head coach didn’t really say much, vocally. Despite looking up at a five-point deficit, he simply wrote his message on the dry-erase board and it read, “We’re in great shape.”
Obviously, Romick has a good feel for his team because his Pilots took his message and turned a rough first half into a 56-33 blowout victory against Buckeye Local (7-4).
“We shot 25 percent from the floor in the first half, so to only be down five, we were in great shape,” Romick said. “I knew we were going to shoot well in the second half. I challenged a couple of the kids. They come in every morning to get extra shots up and I said, ‘Show why you do that (on the court).'”
Those relatively simple words packed a big message, and it worked out just like Romick had envisioned because the Pilots caught fire against a Buckeye Local zone, which yielded five third-quarter bonus goals and a 19-7 period all together.
“They were on fire,” Buckeye Local head coach Chris Heaton said. “It seems like any team we play right now can throw the ball in whenever they want. We’re having trouble defending shooters, and it’s something we’ll have to get better on as we move forward.”
The Pilots saw sophomore Brody Lollathin, freshman Kabel Isaly and junior Kam Potts all dialed long distance in the third quarter.
“We played very tentatively in the first half,” Romick said. “I told the kids, at halftime, (Buckeye) was struggling to score and if we continued to play defense like that, they were going to continue to struggle to score.”
Buckeye Local opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer of its own thanks to Mason Brown. However, the momentum was short lived. River proceeded to score the next eight before Brown tallied the final Panther bucket of the game. The Pilots then closed with the final 13.
Much of the fourth-quarter domination, which was a 21-5 reading, stemmed from the River defense, which simply suffocated the Panthers.
“We made life pretty hard for them to get a good look,” Romick said. “I thought we did a good job on screens, adjusted to the back door. It was just a great job by all seven kids we played.”
River, which played without the services of leading scorer Ty Long because of a non-COVID illness, was led by Lollathin, who pumped in 21 points. Isaly finished with 16 and Potts closed with nine.
Buckeye Local, who came into the game scoring almost 60 points a game, saw its two leading scorers — Brown and Jake Mayle — finish with 10 and seven, respectively. Cameron Grabbits added nine.
“They really tried to take Mason and Jake away, and I thought Lollathin did a nice job of denying Mason the ball,” Heaton said. “We couldn’t get to the hole. We had some open shots, but when they’re not falling, it tends to be a rough night.”
The Panthers, who return home to face Martins Ferry on Friday, are excited they don’t have to come to Monroe County again this season. Buckeye Local has suffered two of its four losses there and both were lopsided. The Panthers fell, 80-29, at Monroe in December.
“It seems like anytime we cross the border into Monroe County, we don’t have it,” Heaton said. “No excuses. We just have to get back to work (Thursday) and get ready for Martins Ferry.”
The Pilots (7-2) will welcome Shadyside on Saturday.
River 56, Buckeye Local 33
Buckeye 14 7 7 5 — 33
River 8 8 19 21 — 56
BUCKEYE LOCAL: McHugh 2, 0-0 4; Brown 4, 1-1 10; Mayle 3, 0-0 7; Grabbits 4, 0-0 9; Best 1, 0-0 3; Taylor 0, 0-0 0. TOTALS: 14, 1-1: 33.
RIVER: Creamer 2, 0-0 4; Lollathin 9, 0-2 21; Longwell 2, 0-0 4; Potts 3, 0-0 9; Lawrence 1, 0-0 2; Thompson 0, 0-0 0; Isaly 7, 0-0 16. TOTALS: 24, 0-2: 56.
3-POINT GOALS: Buckeye Local 4 (Brown, Mayle, Grabbits, Best); River 8 (Lollathin 3, Potts 3, Isaly 2).