The Linsly Cadets withstood a furious River Pilot comeback to win 70-65 in the OVAC Class-2A Championship before a packed Ohio University Eastern fieldhouse, Feb. 18.
After falling behind 20 points late in the first half, the Pilots nipped at the Cadets' lead with outstanding shooting and a remarkable defense where they had the opportunity to win the game in the waning final seconds of the contest.
Pilot Cody Caldwell's basket from beyond the arc trimmed the Cadet lead to 67-64 with a little over a minute remaining in regulation. It came down to a deuce after Caldwell made 1-2 charity tosses and had the ball back after forcing a Cadet turnover.
The Pilots had a chance to take the lead for the first time, but Caldwell and Brett Price both missed bonus bomb attempts, then fouled the Cadets with 10 seconds remaining.
Although Linsly converted only the second of two attempts, the Cadets took a three-point lead with seconds remaining. The Pilots had one chance to send it into overtime, but before the Pilots got a shot off, the Cadets made a steal. Quickly, River fouled and Linsly would convert both free throws for the win.
"We came out a little sluggish in the first half and didn't shoot the ball very well," said veteran Pilot Head Coach Mark Romick. "But our kids battled back and played with a lot of heart and showed what they are made of. Our fan support was great. It reminded me of the days when Coach Dick Potts was at our school and the gym was full every night. The atmosphere gave me goose bumps.
"We just told the kids to keep shooting and that the shots would start falling," Romick said of his halftime address, "and they did. We shoot over 40 percent from the floor (on the season), so I guess it's the old adage 'shoot until you get hot.'"
Matt Price tallied a team-high 21 points, while Chad Isaly came off the bench to net 14 points and Caldwell finished with 13 tallies. Jordan Indermuhle tacked on 17 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocked shots to play outstanding defense that limited the Cadets' big gun, Akil Blount, to eight points.
River is back in action Thursday when it meets Bridgeport in Division IV sectional tournament action at Union Local High School. The game starts at 8 p.m.
Shadyside 36, River 55
The third time did not prove to be the charm for the Shadyside Tigers, who fell 55-36 to the River Pilots for the third straight time in the OVAC Class-2A semifinal contest at R.L. Potts Gymnasium Feb. 14.
After a slow start by both clubs, River held a slim 8-5 lead after one period of play, and went into the locker room up only 23-18. However, veteran River Head Coach Mark Romick instilled in his cagers the importance of this game and had them focused into pounding the ball inside, then cashing it in with bonus bombs.
It worked to perfection as the Pilots went to their inside man, Jordan Indermuhle, and the outside shooting from Matt Marconi, Brett Price, and Cody Caldwell. The fourth-seeded Tigers were taken to school by a focused and intense River Pilot defensive unit. The Pilots used a 1-3-1 full court press that led to countless Pilot baskets off Tiger turnovers to spring-board a 32-18 second half blitz that earned the Pilots their first OVAC Championship at Eastern Ohio University.
In that effort, Price lead all scorers with 21 points that included a trio of three point baskets, while Indermuhle tacked on 17 points and pull down 17 rebounds. Marconi nailed a pair of triples, while Caldwell netted seven points, including a trifecta. Coming off the bench, Kameron Brown tallied four points and made six steals, while keeping several balls alive on the boards.