Pilots Move On To Play Sandy Valley In District
All the time and hard work that Isaac Curtis put into shooting after practice each night paid off in his final game in R.L. Potts Gymnasium.
The 5-10 senior broke his own single-game mark for made three-point goals with a dozen in shooting River to a convincing, 83-25, victory over visiting Newcomerstown (3-20) in a Division III co-sectional final.
Curtis held the previous mark of 10 set earlier this season. He now has 85 on the season and the 12 is tied with five others for the 12th best performance of all time.
“I knew this was going to be my last game in this gym, so I had to give it my all,” Curtis said. “I didn’t think I would break my own record, but the ball kept going in.”
With the lop-sided victory, the third-seeded Pilots (19-4) navigated their way to a district semifinal against No. 8 Sandy Valley, which upset seventh-seeded Edison, 54-40 in Steubenville Tuesday, March 7 at 7 p.m.
River ran out to a 16-5 advantage after one period as Curtis drained two treys. A 27-7 second-quarter scoring margin put the game away for all intents as Curtis connected on five bonus bombs.
“We were able to get some easy looks early on,” veteran River head coach Mark Romick noted. “They (Newcomerstown) were willing to take Lukas (Isaly) away from us and that left other guys open. Isaac stepped up and knocked those shots down.
“Teams have done that all year long,” Romick said of defenses designed to take the talented Isaly out of the offense. “But somebody different has stepped up each night. We’ve got a lot of kids that can shoot the ball from the perimeter.”
With the crowd chanting his name, Curtis equaled his own mark when he connected from the left wing with 2:01 left in the third quarter. His next two attempts at history were off the mark and Romick decided to give his long-range marksman a break.
“I told him I knew he was a little bit winded,” Romick recalled. “He hadn’t been out (of the game) all night. I told him to sit down. Get a little bit of a break and get some water in him.
“I told him to come back out in the fourth quarter and get the 11th one, but it has to find the bottom of the net.”
Returning to the floor to start the fourth quarter, Curtis misfired on his first attempt from beyond the arc as the huge crowd was on its feet. However, his next shot tickled the twine with just 17 ticks elapsed. His next shot also found the bottom of the net before he took a well-deserved seat on the bench.
“It was a great way to cap my career on this floor,” Curtis said.
While Curtis was filling it up from deep, junior do-everything Isaly was stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of a triple-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. He also charted five steals, and knocked two baskets from beyond the arch. Michael Collins added eight points off the bench, including a pair of triples, while Parker Caretti, Cody Hupp and sophomore John Murphy each contributed five markers, and Drew Dietz a free throw.
In addition, Jordan Doty tacked on four points, while Wyatt Reynolds, Mason Ladga and Dillon Grimes each sank a deuce.
The Trojans were led by Bryce Barbera with 15 points and nine rebounds.
River’s in-your-face defense forced 33 turnovers, with 21 coming in the middle two frames.
Bruce Crawford contributed to the story