The Pilots' Brett "Hitman" Price scored nine of his team-high 13 points in the fourth period, while teammates Matt Marconi and Chad Isaly made four of four charity tosses to lead the River Pilots to a 44-35 victory in the Ohio Division IV District semifinal inside the Union Local High School Gymnasium, March 5.
The win pushed them into the district championship against the defending champions, Hiland Hawks, at Meadowbrook High School Saturday afternoon. "It's been a long time since River has been this far," said Pilot Head Coach Mark Romick. "We've been to the district semi's quite a few times, but we've always seemed to run into the defending champions, Hiland. It's probably been since the early 2000's since we've been to the finals."
The contest was very physical from the start, considering the Pilots defeated the Tigers in their first two meetings and Shadyside wasn't going down without a fight.
Both teams missed their first couple scoring opportunities, with each turning the ball over twice before the Tigers converted a snowbird with almost two minutes run off the clock. Shadyside went up 4-0 before the Pilots' Kameron Brown tickled the twine off a nice assist by Marconi for their first points.
Shadyside made it 6-4 after the Pilots' fourth turnover, but Caldwell sank a two pointer just in front of the arc to knot the game at six. The Tigers would dent the scoreboard once more, with the help of Price on the bench with two fouls early on. But, with Price on the pine with foul trouble, Caldwell would sink a triple and Isaly would sink one of two chances from the line to give River a 10-8 advantage after one period of play.
Caldwell swished a triple from the top of the key to open the second period, but the Tigers tallied a basket off the glass, as both teams sank baskets on their first offensive plays of the period. Next, Isaly hit Marconi in stride for an easy deuce.
After a two pointer by Shadyside, the Pilots' Jordan Indermuhle nailed a jumper from the top of the key to lift River to a 17-12 advantage.
The Pilots' defense took their third offensive charge of the half and Isaly would drain a pair of free throws. Then a nifty assist from Isaly to Indermuhle gave the Pilots a little more breathing room before the half.
After returning to the game late in the period, Price would pick up his third foul when he tried to go through a Shadyside pick, but by the end of then second frame, the River Pilots' lead ballooned to 23-17.
With Shadyside energized from keeping the game within their reach, they would come out determined and eventually pull even at 27 points with two minutes remaining in the third period. But Price, who was having a dismal shooting nite, caught fire and sank a three-ball to give the Pilots a 30-27 advantage with eight minutes remaining.
Price would cash in on nine of his team-high 13 points in the fourth period, while Isaly and Marconi sank all four of their charity tosses down the stretch to propel them into the District IV finale with Hiland.
"Brett came alive there in the fourth quarter, but we got some good effort from everyone," added Romick. "Everyone that played tonight contributed in one way or another. We didn't play our best, but we still found a way to win. But a win at this time of year is a win."
In addition to Price's 13 markers, Caldwell tallied nine points, including a pair of baskets from beyond the arc, while Marconi contributed seven points.
In addition, Isaly also netted seven points, with all of them coming from the free throw stripe on eight chances. Indermuhle scored two baskets and pulled down eight boards and swatted four Tiger shots out of harm's way, while Brown and Eric Dierkes each netted a deuce.
The district championship will tip off Saturday, March 9, at 1 p.m. at Meadowbrook High School in Byesville, Ohio, between the River Pilots and Hiland Hawks.