A little more than a week ago, River head coach Mark Romick was none too pleased with how his squad was playing in an eventual loss at Monroe Central. So, the veteran mentor yanked basically his entire starting lineup, sending a message.
He also changed his approach and limited some of the perks he'd given his team and, after two victories last week, the Pilots seem to have righted their ship.
Needing clutch late-game performances or stands, the Pilots dropped both Fort Frye and Caldwell last week to improve to 3-1 on the season.
River is a senior-dominated club that has a chance at a really nice season, but chemistry and humbleness are huge keys to success.
The Pilots - like so many other teams - can't get caught up reading their press clippings or listening to the ideas of how good they are. When you start believing that, it can definitely bite you.
River has tough games upcoming against Hiland, this Saturday, and it'll take part in a holiday basketball showcase event at Marietta College late next week.
A good sign for the Pilots, in their win against Caldwell, was the impressive scoring of senior Brett Price. Price is talented enough to be one of the area's top players. If he's on, he's got a chance to put up a big number every night and the Pilots need that. They also need steady production - both scoring and rebounding - from senior pivot Jordan Indermuhle.
CODY SCHAU LEAD THEM
Players are often judged on how they fare when their teams need them the most.
Since that's the case, then Martins Ferry senior Cody Schau passes with flying colors.
Last Friday, the Purple Riders found themselves down by nearly 20 points at a juncture at Buckeye Local.
The Purple Riders' 6-3 guard saddled the Riders up on his back. Getting good support from junior post Robert Vargo, the Riders eventually overtook the Panthers and improved to 2-0.
Schau has played two games and has scored 31 points in both of them. He's scoring in a bevy of ways, too.
With Schau in the backcourt and the Riders' size and length on the interior, this could be a big season in the Tolbert Gymnasium.
St. Clairsville knew exactly what it was getting into when it inked a regular season game with Columbus Africentric. And outside of the victory, it got just that Saturday night.
In front of a packed house, the Red Devils and Nubians went toe-to-toe for 32 minutes and it took a trey from well beyond NBA range by Africentric for the victory.
However, those are the types of games St. Clairsville wants to play in. Coming off a rough state tournament appearance in March, the Red Devils brought everyone back and have ideas of another big season.
To be at your best in March, you've got to challenge yourself as much as possible in the regular season. Thus, the Red Devils still have dates with Claymont, Upper Arlington and Cleveland St. Ignatius on the horizon.
When you talk about basketball and versatility usually the ability to shoot from the perimeter and slash to the bucket or play on the interior are the traits you're talking about.
However, when it comes to River High senior Evan Eggleston, it's a little different.
Eggleston is a post player for the Pilots. However, his versatility was utilized last Friday in the pre-game.
After the scheduled National Anthem singers weren't able to attend, Eggleston sprung into duty and delivered, reportedly, a very good rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
The art of free throw shooting is simply lost.
I've been to upwards of 10 boys games already this season and teams are struggling to make foul shots.
If you don't believe me, check out the boys' basketball stat leaders on today's scoreboard page. Only one area team shoots better than 70 percent.
I've talked to enough coaches, free throws are practiced over and over again. However, shooting them in practice and games are totally different things. It's not about repetition, but moreso, it's about concentration.
The most bizarre thing about the foul shooting leaders is Bridgeport is the worst foul shooting team at 43.9 percent for the young season. However, the Bulldogs have the area's top individual in the free-throw rankings. Aaron Roth is 13-of-14 for the season for 92.9 percent.
As I wrote in this space last week, I had the opportunity to visit the new Beallsville High School last week for the Blue Devils' game against Barnesville. The new gym is basically the same at Monroe Central's new gymnasium. Plenty of seating and well-lit.
The Blue Devils also don't have their banners up on the wall yet, but Athletic Director Delmas Moore assured me early on that they'd be hung soon. The banners had actually been sent out to be refurbished.
The artwork on the walls is highly impressive. They were pained by Beallsville High graduate Scott Hagen. He also painted the walls at Monroe Central, which were outstanding as well.
GOOD GAMES ON TAP
As the holidays quickly approach, several interesting matchups are on the docket for this week.
The aforementioned Monroe Central Seminoles will seek their sixth straight win, but the task will be challenging as West Virginia small-school power Magnolia visits.
Martins Ferry will put its 2-0 mark up against Harrison Central, which is trying to rebound from its first loss. The game will be played in Cadiz. It was originally slated for Ferry, but the home dates were flipped.
Madonna will visit Shadyside this evening. Shadyside was on the short end at Wheeling Central last Friday and is now 2-2 on the season.
Friday's card is extremely light. Martins Ferry visits Shadyside. These teams used to be annual scrimmage opponents, but since the OHSAA expanded schedules, the two have decided to play in the regular season. It's a great pickup for both schools.
Two intriguing games are on tap Saturday. St. Clairsville hosts a talented Claymont combine, while River treks to the heart of Amish Country in Berlin to take on two-time defending state champion Hiland. The Hawks dispatched the Pilots in last year's district tournament.
BECAUSE OF THE HOLIDAYS
This column will take a two-week hiatus. The weekly boys' basketball column will appear in the Jan. 8 edition and continue throughout the season. While this column will take a break, we'll still be working hard to cover as many as games as possible in the coming two weeks.
You can also follow The Times Leader (@TheTimesLeader) and myself on Twitter (@TLSportsSeth) for the latest in prep basketball all winter.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org