River’s Michael Collins, right, and Parker Caretti, left, swarm to Sandy Valley’s Dan Bartholomew Tuesay, March 7 during the Division III district semifinal at Steubenville High School.A disappointed Lukas Isaly stands to the side as his team lines up to shake hands with Sandy Valley following River’s district semifinal loss Tuesday, March 7 at Steubenville High School.

Pilots’ late rally rims out

River’s season ends in district semifinal

For the best part of four quarters Tuesday, March 7, nothing seemed to be working for River.

Shots weren’t falling for the Pilots, while Sandy Valley seemingly couldn’t miss.

With all their shots rimming out, River couldn’t apply its full-court press. Without the pressure, the Cardinals could be patient on offense, waiting for an open look either in the paint or on the perimeter.

Every bounce seemed to go Sandy Valley’s way during the first 28 minutes, leaving the Pilots and their fans in a mixture of disbelief and frustration.

But, late in the fourth quarter, despite the fact that everything was against them – the amount of time left, the double-digit deficit and a raucous Sandy Valley crowd – the Pilots showed the heart that led them to 19 wins this past season.

In the last few minutes of the game, River nearly created a miracle.

Behind its trademark pressure defense and the slashing offense of Lukas Isaly, the Pilots erased a 10-point hole and gave themselves a chance to win.

Unfortunately, a last-second game-winning attempt from Isaly rimmed out, allowing Sandy Valley to survive River’s comeback in a 59-57 loss, ending the Pilot’s season in the Division III district semifinal at Steubenville High School.

While his players – especially Isaly – took the loss hard, River Coach Mark Romick had nothing but praise for his team following their late surge.

“The type of kids we have, they are going to fight tooth and nail until the end. They are not going to give up,” Romick said. “We were down 15 and we put ourselves in a position to win. That’s all you can ask for.”

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