Rocky River athletic director Mark Wagner presented the RBA Holiday Hoops Classic championship plaque to the Pirates girls basketball team after its 70-36 win over Firelands on Dec. 29.

Playing for the championship in its home tournament on Dec. 29, the Rocky River girls basketball team moved fast and furiously.

That’s nothing new. The Pirates’ style is based on quick movement and waves of defensive pressure.

But in the River Basketball Association Holiday Hoops Classic final against current Lorain County League leader Firelands, a potential Division II district tournament preview turned lopsided in the time it took the Pirates to streak upcourt off of a steal.

They forced 40 Falcons turnovers – 24 in the first half – and went on to win 70-36 to secure the championship plaque.

“It was so fun (to play the tournament),” Pirates junior Annika Mocho said. “My freshman year was our first year playing the tournament and we lost right away in the first round. So it was super exciting to win this year.”

The two-day tournament, contested Dec. 28-29, included four girls teams and four boys teams. In the opening round on Dec. 28, the Pirates (8-1) knocked off Lutheran West, 64-33.

A 25-6 second quarter in the title game turned a six-point game into a rout, and the Pirates held the Falcons (7-3) to less than 10 points in all but one frame with 35 total shots.

By contrast, because of the extra possessions created by the rash of turnovers, the Pirates attempted 81 shots.

“Our press is really good,” Pirates junior Mocho said. “We spend a lot of time in practice working on that.”

Capable of playing a guard or forward role, Mocho led all scorers with 19 points and was named to the all-tournament team. Fourteen of her points came in the first half as the Pirates went ahead 39-14.

Sophomore forward Ava Patti was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds against the Falcons. Senior guard Sophia Murray had 10 points and a game-high five assists. Senior post Kelsey Murphy scored eight with a game-high 10 rebounds.

“It was a big accomplishment for us,” Robinson said. “At the same time, we’ve got some big goals for this season that we definitely want to achieve, and these are stepping stones along the way.”

“If you look at this tournament, we scheduled teams that could fit into our district future,” she said. “These wins are another contribution to our bio, whenever we get to that point later this season.”

The Pirates started the game on a 9-0 run, but the Falcons responded with an 8-0 stretch to make it a one-point game early thanks to some tough defense of their own. After that, the Pirates outscored them 61-28 as their press made it difficult for the Falcons to advance the ball beyond halfcourt.

Senior guard Abbey Schmitz scored a team-high 17 points, and junior post Luren Valerius added seven points and a team-high six boards.

Rocky River will try to extend its win streak to seven games today when it hosts Fairview at 7 p.m. in a Great Lakes Conference West Division matchup.

Longhorns fall just short

In the RBA Holiday Classic consolation game on Dec. 29, Lutheran West fell 46-43 to Padua in overtime of a back-and-forth contest.

The Longhorns (3-7) led 14-5 after the first quarter and 27-20 at halftime, but the Bruins (6-3) chipped away until eventually taking their first lead, 38-36, midway through the fourth quarter. The game went to extra time with the score tied at 40-40.

With the Bruins ahead 44-40 in the waning moments, Longhorns senior forward Evelyn Albers scored a bucket and drew a foul, knocking down the free throw to make it a one-point game. The Bruins turned over the ball on the inbounds pass, but the Longhorns weren’t able to capitalize before the final horn.

Albers finished with 12 points, and Arryon Esposito scored nine. Bruins guard Alyssa Weber scored a game-high 23 points.

Contact this reporter at or 440-871-5797.

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