VERMILION — There’s an age-old saying among basketball coaches that the first 10 possessions of the third quarter determines the eventual winner most of the time.
Rocky River proved that Tuesday night at Vermilion in beating the Sailors 55-40 and clinching a share of the West Shore Conference title with two league games left to play.
The Pirates are 11-1 in the WSC with a two-game lead over Avon, which lost to Midview on Tuesday night.
In the first half Tuesday, it looked like a big upset was possible as the Sailors (7-11, 3-9 WSC) battled through two quarters and had the score tied at 20 with a half to go. Vermilion, which lost 59-44 to Rocky River in their first meeting, had an early 8-3 lead and led four times in the second quarter, once by 20-16.
But then came the whistle to start the second half.
The Pirates scored on six of their first 10 possessions of the third to forge out to a 33-26 lead and were never threatened after. They outscored the Sailors 25-11 in the third, hitting on eight of 19 field-goal attempts, including four of five from beyond the arc. They also dominated the backboards 16-3 to turn around a 21-12 rebound edge for Vermilion in the first half.
Other than the poor third quarter, two things really hurt the Sailors in the game. They had 21 turnovers — to just 11 for the Pirates — and committed 21 fouls — to just 13 for the winners. Three Vermilion players fouled out.
“You’ve got to give Vermilion credit,” said Rocky River coach Mike Murray of the Sailors’ first half. “They played very well defensively on us. But what turned it around for us was our ball movement was much better in the third quarter.”
After taking a 51-31 lead, Rocky River went into a four-corner stall and took just one shot the rest of the game. The Pirates attempted just two field goals in the entire fourth, one of them in the first minute to push their lead to 47-31.
“They’re dangerous with some good shooters,” Murray said of why he went into the stall.
“In the first half we were taking care of the ball on offense and did a good job of shutting down their lanes,” said Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl. “But in the last half, River’s defense was lights out.”
Rocky River was seeded first in the Division II sectional-district at Westlake where Vermilion was seeded sixth. A Pirates victory against Bay in their next league game would clinch the WSC title outright.
Read more boys basketball
- Midview vs. Avon
- Elyria vs. Garfield Heights
- Avon Lake vs. Westlake
- Lorain vs. Collinwood
- Firelands vs. North Ridgeville
- Lake Ridge vs. First Baptist
- Vermilion vs. Rocky River
Rocky River 55, Vermilion 40
ROCKY RIVER (55): Jimmy Corrigan 3-5-12, Joey Kinsley 3-4-10, Kyle Dunne 3-2-9, James Meyer 2-1-7, Brian Thorn 2-3-7, Jonathan Lihani 2-0-5, Michael Pavlik 2-1-5, Mark Muskwa 0-0-0, Tim Smith 0-0-0, Justin Seffernick 0-0-0. Totals 17-16-55.
VERMILION (40): Mitch Novak 6-1-13, Cory Fox 3-0-7, Madison Montgomery 2-1-5, Jordan Gillespie 1-2-4, Anthony Rini 2-0-4, Chris Yakes 1-1-3, Aaron McCann 1-0-2, Clay Malin 1-0-2, Brandon Fuhrman 0-0-0, Joe Dillon 0-0-0, Austin Kazmer 0-0-0. Totals 17-5-40.
Rocky River 11 9 25 10 — 55
Vermilion 11 9 11 9 — 40
Three-point goals: Rocky River 5 of 10 (Meyer 2, Corrigan, Dunne, Lihani), Vermilion 1 of 6 (Fox); Field goals: Rocky River 17 of 43 (39 percent), Vermilion 17 of 40 (42 percent); Free throws: Rocky River 16 of 30 (53 percent), Vermilion 5 of 12 (42 percent); Rebounds: Rocky River 37 (Lihani 8), Vermilion 32 (Novak 6); Turnovers: Rocky River 11, Vermilion 21; Total fouls: Rocky River 13, Vermilion 21; Fouled out: Montgomery, McCann, Novak. Junior varsity: Rocky River, 33-22.
Contact Jerry Rombach at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.