The first half of the 2019-20 season was a fortuitous one for the Rocky River Pirates girls basketball team. In their first 11 games, the Pirates went 8-3 (4-2 in the Great Lakes Conference) and were riding high despite dropping two in a row to Lakewood and Elyria Catholic.
On Wednesday, visiting the Normandy Invaders, the Pirates continued their hot start to the second half of the season, defeating the Invaders 48-37 for their third-consecutive win. It was a team victory as three Pirates scored in double-figures, Rocky River totaled 19 steals and had 11 team assists.
“This time of the year, conference is anybody’s game,” Pirates coach Elaine Robinson said. “Second time around, we all know each other, we know what everybody does. It’s a matter of who can go out, who can execute better and who wants it more.
“(The) first half wasn’t the prettiest but they fought hard (and) we fought hard,” she added. “That third quarter, we came out and really executed. We played great team basketball, we shared the basketball, we hit some outside shots. Defensively, we picked up the intensity, we were in the right spots. Overall just a good third quarter which allowed us to go on our run and really take care of business.”
At halftime, the Invaders hung with the Pirates (11-3, 7-2 GLC), trailing by just four points at 21-17. Normandy (4-9, 1-9 GLC) was led by freshman Emily Queener with eight first-half points but was plagued by Rocky River’s defense, turning the ball over 15 times in the first two quarters.
In the third quarter, the Pirates extended their lead to 29-22 with 3:18 left in the third. It was clear Robinson wanted more out of her squad as the loudly called a timeout and talked things over with the team. Whatever she said paid off as Rocky River finished the quarter on a 13-2 run and went into the fourth with a 42-24 lead, enough to hold off late Normandy pushes.
The third quarter also saw junior Maria Potts get more involved in the offense. After scoring just three points in the first half, she scored seven in the third and finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Her sister and fellow junior Julia Potts was the Pirates leading scorer with 13 points, six rebounds, six steals and two assists.
“(Having defense turn into offense) makes it a lot easier because we don’t have to set up our offense,” Julia Potts said. “We’re better at pushing the ball and getting fast breaks because I feel like we’re a lot faster than other teams.”
Behind the Potts sisters, sophomore Kelsey Murphy was the final Pirate in double-digits, scoring 10 points to go along with six rebounds.
Normandy freshman Caylin Wagner matched Queener’s output with nine points and senior Sarah Ziel had eight.
The Pirates continue their second trip through the conference at 2 p.m. Saturday at Parma. Robinson hopes her team continue the brand of team basketball on display Wednesday night and continue learning from the first half of the year.
“One thing we’re emphasizing is that, in this conference, on any given night anybody can show up and beat anybody,” Robinson said. “It comes down to execution. Who knows the scouting report better, who knows the plan better and who then is going to go out and act on those plans.”
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