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River rolls by Buckeye Local

CONNORVILLE – Big things are expected from the River High boys’ hoop team this season. If opening night is any indication, those optimistic aspirations are well justified.

Veteran and successful Pilot head coach Mark Romick welcomes back a solid cast from a 21-win squad from a year ago. And despite an abbreviated pre-season practice schedule courtesy of an extended Pilot football playoff run, Romick’s charges debuted with an impressive 75-33 win over Buckeye Local Tuesday night.

“I was pleased with how we played,” Romick said. “Ten days ago we were playing in the regional finals in football. We have had only five practices with our entire team and only one scrimmage.

“We came out tonight with still a lot of football in us. But we got better and better as the game went on,” he added. “It’s only one game but it is a good starting point.”

River boasts a boatload of weapons. The Pilots suited up nine varsity players, eight found the scoring column.

Romick received sparkling efforts from his talented senior tandem of Brody Lollathin and Ty Long. Lollathin led all scorers with 18 points while Long delivered 15 counters.

Sharpshooting senior Wyatt Harlan came off the bench to contribute 12 counters, all coming on treys. Classmate River Thompson chipped in with nine points while junior dandy Kabel Isaly netted eight points to go with a handful of steals and plenty of savvy.

“With limited practices we were trying things out on the fly. But I thought we ran the floor very well,” Romick added. “I was happy with how well we shared the ball. We have a lot of people who can score.

“We executed very well defensively. We did a nice job of fighting through screens,” he continued. “We have a veteran group. They are fun to coach.”

River returns to action Tuesday, hosting Bridgeport.

Buckeye Local turned in a solid first quarter effort, finding itself down by just one (13-12) after the opening eight minutes. The tide quickly turned.

River rolled off 16 unanswered points to start the second period to break matters open. Lollathin fueled the surge with three buckets while Thompson added two more goals.

The Panthers never recovered.

River owned a 33-15 halftime cushion before stretching its margin to 54-29 after three rounds.

The loss was the second straight for Buckeye Local, dropping its opener at Barnesville. The Panthers swing back into action Friday, playing host to Shadyside.

“We played a strong first quarter. They tried to press us and we got some easy buckets when we broke it,” Buckeye Local head coach Chris Heaton noted. “But we hurt ourselves in the second quarter. We missed some open shots and committed too many turnovers.

“But we knew how good River is. Even with limited practice they are an excellent team,” he added. “We showed flashes tonight but not enough. We have to become more consistent.”

Buckeye Local didn’t have a double-digit scorer. Juniors Gavyn Romanyak, Dayne Carter and sophomore Ryder Kindberg-Colabelli each tallied eight points for the Panthers.

River took great care of the ball, committing just four turnovers. Buckeye Local, meanwhile, was guilty of 19 miscues.

The Panthers earned a split on the evening, taking the prelim 49-36.

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