River lives to play another day in D-IV

MORRISTOWN – It’s been said time and again that tournament time is all about surviving and advancing.

River boys’ basketball coach Mark Romick will swear by that after Tuesday night’s lackluster, 36-31, Division IV sectional tournament victory over Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans (3-20) inside “The Hangar” at Union Local High School.

Romick’s top-seeded Pilots (15-6) might have played their worst game in quite some time, especially in the first half when they connected on just five of 30 shots from the floor. However, they only trailed by five, 19-14, at the intermission.

“That was, literally, survive and advance in the truest sense,” Romick said. “When you shoot that bad from the floor in the first half, and you’re still in the ballgame, the only thing you can do is credit your defense.

“We played good enough defense,” he said of the first half. “We told the kids at halftime, we can ‘D’ them up and keep them from scoring, but we need to make some shots.”

Of the Pilots’ 14 first-half markers, Matt Marconi notched seven in the first quarter and Jordan Indermuhle followed suit in the second. Leading scorers Brett Price and Cody Caldwell combined for a goose egg in the first 16 minutes.

“Had it not been for Matt and Jordan in the first half, I don’t know if we could’ve scored,” Romick joked. “It was like the old adage that we couldn’t throw a pea in Lake Erie.

“I can’t remember the last time that Brett and Cody were scoreless at halftime,” Romick allowed.

Marconi continued to shine in the third quarter as the 5-8 senior tallied half-a-dozen points of his game-high 15 as the Pilots took a 27-26 lead when Price, who had been 0-for-11, cashed in his first bucket with 27 seconds remaining.

After Tyler Swackhammer scored on an inside move early in the final quarter to put the eighth-seeded Bishops on top 28-27, Price went to work.

The 6-2 senior kissed one off the glass before burying a step-back three-pointer. He completed his mini run with a floater in the lane.

“I think we were a lot more patient in the second half,” Romick continued. “We were more selective with our shots and not just throwing up the first open shot we had. I think we went 8-for-13 from the floor in the second half.

“Give Rosecrans credit,” Romick added. “Coach (Todd) Rock does a good job with his kids and they had a good game plan tonight. We knew we’d see some different defenses tonight. We worked on some of the things we thought we’d see, but until you get into a game situation, it’s tough.”

Price would finish with nine points and a like number of rebounds, while Indermuhle had 11 boards to go with his seven counters.

Swackhammer paced Bishop Rosecrans with nine points and a dozen rebounds.

With the win, River will return to Morristown Friday night to meet Bridgeport, which ousted St. John Central, 66-51, in Tuesday’s nightcap. The ball will go up at 7:00.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com