CANTON - High school basketball is a game of four quarters, or two halves. However you want to look at it.
River (19-7) will remember the first half of its initial trip to the Division IV regional boys' tournament in 24 years, but not many of the Pilots will want to recall what happened after that.
Mark Romick's squad led Youngstown Christian 29-23 at halftime Tuesday night inside the historic Canton Memorial Fieldhouse, and even bumped the margin to 10, 35-25, when Chad Isaly buried a three from the right wing two minutes into the third quarter.
River’s Jordan Indermuhle (10) splits a pair of Youngstown Christian defenders with a jumping shot during their Division IV regional semifinal game Tuesday night.
However, that shot prompted Eagles coach Dolph Carroll, who was a team captain at the University of Kansas in the late 1970s, to immediately call a timeout.
Whatever he said to his team worked as Youngstown Christian (16-8) went on an impressive 16-3 run that left it with a 41-38 lead after three quarters en route to a 60-49 victory.
With their victory, Youngstown Christian advances to Friday night's regional championship game against a very talented Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, which routed Windham, 93-56, in last night's second game.
"We had open looks in the second half that we didn't knock down like we did in the first half," Romick explained of the difference in halves. "We gave up turnovers in the third quarter that we didn't in the first half, and many of them led to easy layups in transition. Their pressure finally got to us and we may have gotten a little tired."
That wasn't the case in the first 16 minutes as River came out aggressive and didn't back down from the Eagles.
The contest was deadlocked twice early on before River grabbed a 15-14 edge after one period. The Pilots, behind 13 first-half points from senior Brett Price, broke a 19-19 tie in the second quarter when Price cashed in a trey that sparked a 10-4 spurt that gave the Monroe Countians their halftime advantage.
"We felt pretty good at the half," Romick noted, "but we warned the kids to not get to playing their style of ball, and that's what happened to us. That kind of happened to us at the end of the first half when we were up by six and had the ball. We rushed a shot and gave them a chance and they hit a three right before the buzzer.
"That hurt us, as did a couple of times in the third quarter when we had the 10-point lead," he continued. "We had a couple of possessions to build on that lead, but we squandered them."
The Eagles' 6-foot-5, 240-pound Tymere Dubose scored six of his points during the decisive run. He finished with a game-high 22 points, 10 coming in the final quarter. He added nine rebounds for good measure.
"You can take timeouts and do some other things," Romick said of the Eagles' run, "but we have kind of lived and died by the three all season. We died by it in the second half."
Price, the District 12 Player of the Year, completed his fine career with a team-best 21 points. He also cleaned the glass 13 times for game honors. Classmate Cody Caldwell added 15 points and Jordan Indermuhle added eight boards and five blocked shots, all of them coming in the first quarter.
Despite its height disadvantage, River led 38-37 off the glass. The Pilots also had 17 turnovers, with a dozen of them coming after the intermission break. The Eagles finished with 11, but only three came in the second half.