River lands 3A seed in OVAC Tournament | News, Sports, Jobs
WOODSFIELD — Aside from his loss to Akron Hoban in December, it doesn’t matter who River has faced.
The drivers were able to dictate the tempo, play a sticky man-to-man defense and an effective half-court attack. The results led to resounding success.
River followed the same recipe again on Tuesday when he officially clinched the top seed in next week’s OVAC 3A WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital Men’s Basketball Tournament with a hard-earned 40-30 win over Monroe Central in a blocked Seminoles gymnasium.
“It’s good to be in the tournament and to be the top seed, but now everyone is 0-0 and you have to win two games next week,” said River head coach Mark Romick. “With this team, I like our chances every night.”
On the other side, the Seminoles appear to be comfortably in the 2A field, but whether or not they are the top three or four seeds remains to be seen.
“I tried to do math, but I teach history for a reason” Monroe Central head coach Jon Perkins smiled. “It could come down to bonus points and be a very slim margin, so we’ll just wait and see.”
Before either team could switch gears for what awaited them next week, they had a lot of work to do in the form of a rivalry game for county bragging rights.
The Drivers entered the locker room at halftime with a 16-12 lead. For many, this can be alarming.
Romick’s message to his players was pretty quick.
“I said, ‘this is our type of game'” Romick revealed. “Possession was weak and I think we did an amazing job defensively in the first half.”
In fact, River’s defense has been impressive throughout, especially considering the Seminoles scored in double figures in just the fourth quarter and there were just 11.
“We hung on and played very good defence” Romick said. “Monroe has a lot of weapons with three guys who can shoot from the perimeter, one of the best athletes in the Ohio Valley at (Malachi) Rose-Burton and (Tucker) Howell is also a very talented kid.”
On the attacking side, the pilots again showed patience and looked at each other closely, but missed more than five or six shots from close range.
“I thought our selection of shots was really good, but we missed a ton of bunnies,” Romick said. “We had them where we wanted them. We ran a few sets and got exactly the look we wanted, but we just weren’t done. But, it happens. The kids weren’t trying to miss (the shot), but the ball just didn’t go in.
Those opportunities helped the Seminoles hang on.
Monroe scored seven of the front nine in the third quarter to take a 19-18 lead, but the Pilots scored the back nine for a 27-19 advantage at the final break.
In the fourth, Monroe Central came within three at 31-28 when Collin Kroll scored the only Seminole bonus goal of the game.
“I think if you look back throughout the game, both teams had shots that were easy shots, but when you fight so hard to get one, and you open up, you’re surprised. “ said Perkins.
The momentum was short-lived. River missed, but the loose ball was deflected to sophomore guard Kabel Isaly, who despite struggling offensively through the first three quarters, buried a three to cut the lead to six.
“There was a time when we were down eight and it was a lot more than that because of the type of game it was,” said Perkins. “They’re phenomenal defensively and I heard a long time ago that you have to build your team to beat the best teams in your schedule, so we wanted to play like that and we were able to keep teams in the 30s and under 40s, so we knew it was coming. Hats off to River.
From there, the drivers scored six of the last eight. All came to the foul line. Junior Brody Lollathin, who led all game scorers with 21 points, took his six tries in the fourth and senior Brody Longwell was two of three on the boards.
The Seminoles received 12 points from talented senior Malachi Rose-Burton. Freshman Tucker Howell had six in top support.
“Our children gave us everything they had” said Perkins. “We had too many unforced errors, especially in a low possession game. You give away three or four possessions and it’s difficult.