River doubles up Magnolia

HANNIBAL — River has talent. Its record shows that.

But this season’s Pilots boys’ basketball team possesses certain qualities that accentuate what’s on the floor.

Hustle, patience, tenacity — all trademarks of Mark Romick-coached teams — are all figuring heavily in another strong start to the campaign.

All three traits were on full display Tuesday night as the Pilots jumped on Magnolia early and cruised to a 60-30 victory inside the R.L. Potts Gymnasium.

“Our kids played very hard,” Romick said following his team’s eighth victory in 10 outings. “They did an excellent job on defense. They helped out, they recovered, they stopped penetration. They got hands on the basketball … deflected lots of balls.

“We just did a really nice job defensively.”

River jumped out to a 7-0 lead to get the cushion it needed then held the Blue Eagles to single digits in scoring for three of four quarters.

“What we’re trying to do is find someone who can score,” Magnolia head coach Dave Tallman said of his young squad.

“I don’t know if they’re nervous or what’s going on. We’re trying a lot of different people — we’ve started nine different players already. So, we’re still searching.”

The Blue Eagles (1-5) pulled to within five midway through the first, but River responded with a 10-0 run to go up 21-6 early in the second. Jason Deaton came off the bench to score the first seven points of the spurt, emblematic of the team play the Pilots have received thus far in 2018-19.

“We talk all the time about going in and doing what you’re good at,” Romick said. “Jason did what he’s extremely good at. He can score. He can attack you.”

But it just wasn’t Deaton. James Hendershot and Colton Lawrence both scored 11 points, but Deaton (9 points), John Murphy (9 points) and Michael Johnson (8 points) just missed double figures.

“We’re an entirely different team than we were last year,” Romick explained. “Last year, we relied on Lukas (Isaly) to do the bulk of our scoring. Other guys stepped up at times, but Lukas was the guy.

“This year, we have four guys close to averaging double figures and another four guys that have scored in double figures at some point this year. So, everyone steps up on a different night and that makes us kind of hard to defend.”

River ended the first half on a 5-2 run and carried a 33-16 lead into halftime. After winning the third quarter 11-6, the Pilots scored the first 10 points of the fourth to go up 54-22. Magnolia didn’t record a field goal in the fourth until the 3:45 mark.

“I was tickled to death with our boxing out,” Romick remarked. “You have to do the little things to win and that’s what we did.”

That, and keep close tabs on Magnolia standout Jake Gamble, who finished with a game-high 15 points.

“He’s pretty good off the dribble,” Romick noted. “Carter (Dennis) and Jason did an excellent job on him.”

Tallman’s task now is to complement Gamble.

“River is a good team and we knew we’d have to be patient offensively,” he said.

“We’ve been working our tails off. It’s a disappointing loss, but we’ll keep working.”