ROCKY RIVER — Rocky River coach Mike Murray said after Friday night’s West Shore Conference showdown with Midview that he thought the Middies got too many easy shots down the stretch.
Midview’s last shot, though, would be classified as anything but easy.
The Middies’ Justin Morris hit an improbable, off-balance 17-footer as time ran out — no foul was called, despite significant contact from a Pirate — and Midview ran its winning streak to 12 games in a 47-45 victory over Rocky River.
Morris had tied the game 20 seconds earlier on an inbounds play, and ended up with the ball after a Pirate turnover with under five seconds left.
Midview’s D.J. Johnson tipped a pass that ended up in Riley Moore’s hands, and he fired an outlet pass to Morris.
Morris said he thought there was less than a second left on the clock when he put up the last shot, when there was actually about three seconds left.
“It wouldn’t have happened without our good defense,” Morris said. “We have a senior-laden team. We’ve been in this position a number of times. No one panicked and we just played through it.”
The Middies improved to 14-2 and 8-1 in the WSC, while knocking the Pirates off the pace at 6-3 (9-6 overall).
They did it despite missing seven straight shots before Morris’ final two went in, a result of a Pirates man-to-man defense Midview coach Troy DiFranco called “one of the best around.”
Midview also beat Rocky River, 38-33, on Dec. 16, two close games Moore attributed to the Pirates being one of the only teams on Midview’s schedule with the size to match the Middies.
“We got some crucial stops, and the kids believed in themselves and their teammates,” said DiFranco, whose team lost to the Pirates at the buzzer here last season. “They’re a great defensive team. It’s kind of nice to be on the other side of these buzzer-beaters.”
The Middies led by two at the half, but faltered in the third quarter by committing three turnovers in the first 4four minutes as Rocky River rattled off eight straight. The Pirates led by as many as eight after a 3-pointer from Tim Smith and a bucket from Cory Almady, but Midview’s Devin Dombrowski made a critical three at the third-quarter buzzer to cut Rocky River’s lead to five.
The teams traded blows early in the fourth, but three straight second-chance baskets — a three-point play by Moore, another putback from Eddie Brezina and Moore’s follow of Brezina’s miss — pushed Midview back in front 43-41 with three minutes left.
Rocky River countered with a fast-break score by Michael Pavlik to tie it, and Midview misfired on its next two possessions. The Pirates took their final lead with 30 seconds left on Joey Meyer’s stickback, but Morris rescued Midview.
“Both teams played well defensively and competed well, but down the stretch, they got much better quality shots than we did,” Murray said. “And that was the difference. They had much better execution than we did.”
And while Moore most often leads Midview, the Middies have shown they can win without big games from their three-year letterman. He and Brezina scored eight, while Patrick Linn and Morris added seven apiece.
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Midview 47, Rocky River 45
MIDVIEW (47): Devin Dombrowski 2-0-5, Eddie Brezina 3-2-8, DJ Johnson 1-4-6, Justin Morris 3-0-7, Patrick Linn 2-3-7, Arlington McClinton 2-2-6, Riley Moore 3-2-8. Totals 16-13-47.
ROCKY RIVER (45): Tim Smith 2-0-5, Ryan McCrone 2-0-4, Cory Almady 4-0-10, Justin Seffernick 1-0-2, Joey Kinsley 4-0-9, Jonathan Lihani 2-1-5, Michael Pavlik 3-2-8, Brian Thorn 1-0-2. Totals 19-3-45.
Midview 12 10 8 17 — 47
Rocky River 11 9 15 10 — 45
Three-point goals: Midview 2 (Dombrowski, Morris), Rocky River 4 (Smith, Almady 2, Kinsley). Field goals: Midview 16-48 (33 percent), Rocky River 19-49 (39 percent). Free throws: Midview 13-19 (68 percent), Rocky River 3-5 (60 percent). Rebounds: Midview 34 (Moore 8), Rocky River 29 (Pavlik 6). Turnovers: Midview 9, Rocky River 8. Total fouls: Midview 7, Rocky River 13.
Junior varsity: Rocky River, 43-32