River cruises past Bulldogs for ninth win

HANNIBAL — Bridgeport didn’t know what hit it.

After dropping in the first bucket of its boys’ high school basketball encounter against River, the Bulldogs watched the Pilots explode for 14 unanswered points, part of a 20-4 opening salvo that culminated with the home team posting a 76-49 triumph inside the R.L. Potts Gymnasium to remain unbeaten at 9-0.

The Pilots’ exhibited great energy during the opening moments, running up and court the court with what appeared shear ease behind the legs of senior Lukas Isaly and junior John Murphy.

Isaly scored nine of his game-high 27 points (all from beyond the arc) during the first quarter, while Murphy, posted nine of his 23.

“We told our kids we’re (unbeaten) because of the blue-collar mentality we have,” River head coach Mark Romick said. “We go out every night and we play offense as hard as we can play it and we play defense and as hard as we can.

“We take what the opposing team gives us.”

The Bulldogs were unable to match River’s intensity and energy at both ends of the court early and fell behind by as much as 25 in the second quarter.

“They threw the first punch like the first meeting (a 74-61 River victory) and they jumped out to a big lead and we were never able to recover,” Bridgeport head coach Donnie Cash said.

“But that’s a good basketball team over there with very a very good player (Isaly) and the other six or seven, or however many they play, know their roles and they play to the best of their ability.

“They do everything pretty right and that’s why they’re 9-0.”

No more was that evident that at the start of the second quarter when the Pilots went on a 17-0 surge to begin the period. Four players scored during the run, but everyone that was in seemed to have a hand in things.

Romick commented following the Pilots’ season-opening victory against Monroe Central that it would take some time for his team — which is comprised of many new faces — to find themselves. As the season reaches its midway points, the veteran coach believes they’re getting there.

“We still have to find more pieces and depth,” he said. “Those guys have to understand that when they go in they have to be productive in whatever role that they’re in.”

Macrae Doyle and Travon ray both paced the Bulldogs with 19 points, and both had bog third quarters, scoring seven and nine points, respectively, as Bridgeport cut its deficit under 20.

“Our kids battled,” Cash said. “We didn’t give in or anything, and I like that. But when you dig yourself a hole and you have a kid on the other side that’s pretty good, it’s hard to come back.

“Our goal was to get it down under 10 in the fourth, but we didn’t get the stops.”

Even up as much as they were, Romick kept stressing the blue-collar mentality. He called time with 2:57 left in the third to remind them.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is in a game,” he said. “You play like it’s 0-0. You have to play on an even keel the entire game, and if you allow yourself to start not playing hard, even if you’re up or down 20, then you’re in trouble./

“You have to work hard the whole time.”

Drew Dietz added 12 points for the Pilots, who visit Magnolia on Tuesday. The Bulldogs travel to Steubenville Catholic that same night.

River also won the JV encounter, 52-31.