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River Edges Shadyside In Thriller

Photo by Seth Staskey River’s Ty Long looks to take a shot with Shadyside’s Mason VanNest defending during Friday’s hoops action inside Shadyside’s gymnasium. The Pilots prevailed in a nail-biter by the score of 48-46.

SHADYSIDE — Not much usually comes easy when Route 7 rivals River and Shadyside meet up in an athletic capacity.

Friday night was no different as the Pilots led by as many as eight points in the first half, while the Tigers led by as many as seven in the fourth quarter, before everything came down to one final shot at the buzzer.

After leading by six at the end of the first quarter, then struggling through the second and third, River collected three late turnovers with two of the youngest players on the court Kabel Isaly and River Thompson nailing huge three-pointers, as the Pilots closed on a 15-6 run over the final 4:06 to escape with a cherished 48-46 victory over Shadyside inside the Tigers’ Den.

The victory improves Coach Mark Romick’s youthful, but unbeaten, squad to 3-0 while Coach Ed Andes’ Tigers dropped to 1-2 on the young campaign.

Defense played a big part in the contest, especially early on as Shadyside used a pair of Jacob Visnic field goals to take an 8-5 lead at the 4:50 mark of the opening chapter. However, it was River that provided the first run of the contest led by five points from Brody Lollathin as the Pilots closed the first on an 11-2 run to take a 16-10 advantage heading into the second.

The Tigers made an impact defensively in the second, cutting the margin to 16-14 while the visitors failed to score until a Lollathin hoop at the 4:28 mark. But while River turned the ball over five times in the second quarter, after not committing a miscue in the first, and scoring just seven points, Shadyside was able to trim just one point off the lead heading to the locker room down 23-18 at the break.

After Ty Long opened the scoring with a field goal at 5:16 of the third to extend the Pilots lead Shadyside caught fire with Elijah Brock scoring eight of his game-high 13 points during a 12-2 burst that put the hosts back in front for the first time since midway through the first quarter at 30-27. A Brock basket with 34 seconds left in the frame helped provide the Tigers with a 32-31 upperhand after three.

An 8-2 run by Andes’ club extended that lead to 40-33 with 4:20 to go on a pair of Mason VanNest charity tosses. That is when the wheels began falling off for Shadyside as three River free throws cut the margin to 40-36 before VanNest added two more for a 42-36 reading with 3:18 to play.

The Tigers, who had turned the ball over just six times to that point proceeded to turn it over three of their next four possessions with Isaly draining a triple, Brody Longwell converting a conventional three to know the score and Thompson drilling another trey to give River the lead for good with 1:31 showing.

Lollathin hit a pair of free throws at 1:13 to push the lead to five before a Jordan Joseph hoop at 1:01 made it 47-44. VanNest’s basket with 15 seconds to play cut the deficit to just one before Visnic had a chance to tie or give the hosts the lead with a one-and-one with five seconds to go, but missed the first with Long hauling in the rebound and getting fouled.

Long made his first attempt with Brock getting the rebound to help the Tigers try and set up one final shot. After both teams burned a time out VanNest was able to get off a long three attempt at the buzzer which bounced off the glass as the Pilots celebrated the victory.

“Give Shadyside credit, they played a great defensive basketball game,” Romick said afterwards. “But at the same time our shot selection was not very good at times, especially in the second and most of the third quarters. I felt we did start getting better towards the end of the third. And give our young kids, Kabel Isaly and River Thompson, credit for hitting a pair of huge threes to help us get the lead back.

“We passed up some good looks and I keep telling the kids that every open shot they don’t take is a miss. I am so proud of how we were able to battle back (Friday). We were aggressive on the boards in the first quarter, but they did a real good job in the second and third. I felt like we got a little complacent at times when we had the lead early and could have extended it.

“Our defense bailed us out in the first half, but they started beating us down the court in the third quarter. I think a lot of that has to do with young kids making mental mistakes. But it is a sign of a good team to come back in the end like we did.”

Andes was also proud of how his team battled back to get the lead in the third quarter, bit didn’t like how they let their guard down when it mattered most.

“You can’t turn the ball over like we did in the end,” Andes admitted. “We played real aggressive offense at times and it allowed us to get the lead in the second half, but we got a little lax when we could have put it away. I’m not sure if the kids got a little tired or what happened.

“But this was our third game and we have gotten a little better each time out. We have a lot of football players and they are still working to get their basketball legs. I thought we fought hard on defense, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do to take advantage of the situation in the second quarter.

“I’m seeing the kind of improvement I want to see, but it has to continue.”

Longwell had a team-high 12 points for River with Lollathin adding 10 for the winners while Kam Potts and Isaly each tallied seven. Lollathin also pulled down six rebounds. The Pilots played most of the game without Chase Lawrence, who got in foul trouble early in the second quarter before sustaining an apparent lower leg injury early in the third.

VanNest added 10 for Shadyside while Beckett finished with nine and Joseph eight. Brock also had game-high nine rebounds.

Steubenville Catholic 40, Toronto 36

TORONTO — Charles Miller bucketed 21 points to lead Steubenville Catholic past Toronto.

Toronto was led by Jay Hanlin’s 13 points.

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