Rocky River, Ohio- The boys final of the Rocky River Holiday Classic was a matchup of the unbeatens between the 7-0 Avon Lake Shoremen and the 6-0 Rocky River Pirates. Avon Lake beat Padua 67-34 in the tournament opener while Rocky River handled John Hay 69-30 to reach the finals.
The first quarter was all Avon Lake as the Shoremen jumped out to a 14-4 lead early. I spoke with Matthew Stuewe after the game and he credited defense for the quick start.
“We pressed off the start they couldn’t come back from the early deficit it’s great to start off strong”.
The Shoremen made a habit of pounding the paint with senior forward Isaac Richardson and senior Matthew Stuewe causing the Pirates to commit 4 early fouls. The Pirates were only 2/11 in the first quarter compared to 5/12 for the Shoremen.
The score was 20-8 with 6:43 left in the second quarter. Rocky river used a full timeout after a turnover and a quick layup by Stuewe. Avon Lake overwhelmed the pirates with intense defense and a fast pace of play. Rocky River’s struggles continued as they were just 3/16 midway through the 2nd quarter.
Defense is a big part of the Shoremen identity according to Stuewe.
"We have 5 or 6 presses and traps we practice every day. Teams can’t account for all of that. It led to a few key steals early, and that’s how we win games”.
Avon Lake stuck with a heavy dose of Richardson and Stuewe. Rocky river was down 25-14 with 3 minutes left in the half as Julian Patti turned it over and the Shoremen took it all the way for an easy layup to put the Shoremen up 13 at 27-14.
Rocky River avoided disaster at the end of the 2nd quarter. Shoremen guard Danny Kerwin hit a big 3 pointer to put Avon Lake up 30-14. The Pirates were not going away quietly as Patti rushed down the court to hit a tough layup and complete the 3 point play.
The Pirates stopped Avon Lake to end the quarter to head to halftime down 30-17 which felt like a win for River as far as momentum goes. Avon Lake picked up where they left off pounding the paint. Richardson had 5 quick points coming out of the half, Stuewe added 3 of his own.
Rocky River called a timeout with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter after some sloppy turnovers. Avon Lake kept pressing the Pirates forcing River into some rushed shots. The defense for Avon Lake helped them with 2 steals late in the third, and another quick layup by Stuewe to grow the Shoremen lead to 22 at 43-21.
Avon Lake finished the quarter strong as they took a 49-28 lead into the 4th quarter in this tournament finale. The Shoremen are using a true team effort as Stuewe has 14, Richardson has 14 and Peyton Lerch had 11.
The Shoremen did not take their foot off the gas as they started the 4th with two quick 3 pointers, and almost completed a highlight reel alley ooop to Richardson. Rocky River tried to claw their way back into this one, but Avon Lake’s size and athleticism became too much to overcome.
Rocky River had a much more competitive 4th quarter as they scored 9 points in the first 5 minutes of the quarter. Unfortunately they gave up 12 to the Shoremen in that span.
The Avon Lake Shoremen win the Rocky River Holiday Classic by giving the Pirates their first loss of the season with a final score of 65-39. Collin Stewart, Matthew Stuewe, and Isaac Richardson were a part of the all tournament team with Richardson taking home tournament MVP honors. Senior Will DeClerck was a part of the all tournament team for the runner up Rocky River Pirates.
I spoke with the Shoreman's Matthew Stuewe after the game.
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