Division II Playoffs
By Joe Ostrica
The Division II district finals contest between the top two seeds was about as big as a game gets for the Bay Rockets boys basketball team, shooting for their first district championship in 23 years. Playing at North Ridgeville High School, the No. 1 seed Rockets faced off with No. 2 seed Keystone. Bay came out on fire, taking a 36-23 halftime lead en route to a 71-59 victory.
The win marked Bay's first district title since 1993. “The game plan against Keystone was to try to pressure them into a pace they weren't comfortable playing,” Bay head coach Jared Shetzer said. “We used our pressure to speed the game up. The difference was our pressure and we were able to set each other up for open shots all night.” The Rockets had four players score in double figures. Junior Jack Jelen led Bay with 19 points, including one 3-pointer. Senior Jon Koz finished with 16 points, including two 3-pointers. Sophomore R.J. Sunahara (14 points, seven rebounds, one 3-pointer) and freshman Erik Painter (11 points, one 3-pointer) also reached double digits for the Rockets. Bay seniors Cole Gergye (nine points) and Scott Durham (two points) rounded out the scoring for the Rockets. “I was very proud of John Koz and Jack Jelen's efforts,” Shetzer said. “They showed leadership for us throughout the game. We had several key performances but it was a total team effort again for us like it has been all season long.” Bay's 76-59 regional semifinals victory over Buckeye March 3 was extra sweet considering the Rockets lost in the regional semifinals last season. After the Bucks tough defensive play helped Buckeye jump out to an early 8-0 lead, the Rockets responded with a 17-4 run to take a five-point lead after the first quarter (17-12). Bay led by seven at halftime (32-25) and eight (57-49) after three quarters. A 19-8 fourth quarter propelled the Rockets to a 76-57 win. “Buckeye has a lot of good players, but I think we scouted them very well and we were prepared,” Shetzer said. “Our kids struggled at times against their zone, but once we got in the flow and spread the game out we were in good shape.” Four of Bay's five starters reached double figures in the win. Two of their younger players – sophomore Sunahara and freshman Painter – finished with 23 and 19 points, respectively. “R.J.'s stat line was unbelievable,” Shetzer said. “The kid works his tail off. He's a gym rat. He works with a shooting coach over the summer. He played inside and out for us. “Painter can shoot big shots in clutch moments. He's a warrior. Freshmen don't do that very often.” Bay will play in the Division II regional semifinals against Napoleon at Bowling Green State University Thursday at 8 p.m. “We are going to break down film and prepare as usual,” Shetzer said. “What we need to do is continue to shoot the ball in the practice and continue to improve our defensive rotations. “We have seven all conference players and six all-district players. It's just a credit to all the work they put in. I'm so proud of these guys.”
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