by ERIC CLUTTER | CORRESPONDENT
Aurora -- It was a quick turnaround for Kent Roosevelt and Aurora when the two met Feb. 9 at Aurora High School.
The night before, both the Rough Riders and Greenmen (1-19 overall) had lost close games, Aurora's being a one-point loss to Kenston at the buzzer.
So when the opening tip was tossed in the air at 1 p.m., there were some tired legs for two young squads looking for wins during seasons dedicated to growth and development.
Corey Mitchell, one of the few seniors on the floor for either side, continued his scoring spree of late, torching the nets for 23 points to lead Roosevelt to a 62-50 non-league victory.
"In my 13 years now with the varsity program, I don't remember too many Saturday games, let alone a 1 p.m. start," said Roosevelt coach Ben Dunlap.
"I asked these guys to come -- our bus left at 9 after a tough loss (to Springfield) last night -- and support our freshmen that played at 10, to support our program. I have absolutely no complaints; they earned this win."
Mitchell, who has averaged just under 22 points in the previous three contests, hit 10 of 12 shots from the field, with one of his misses a desperation 3-point attempt at the first-half buzzer.
With Mitchell demanding more defensive attention from the Greenmen in the second half, Wright, who finished with 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting, and fellow frontcourt partner Joseph Watts picked up the scoring slack, combining for 14 points to help extend the Rough Riders' lead to as many as 20 points with 2:30 to play in the third quarter.
The Greenmen, however, regrouped and responded with the game's next 10 points, narrowing the deficit to 47-37 following a Nick Reminder 15-foot turnaround that opened the fourth period.
AURORA continued to chip away at the lead and pulled within 5 points with two minutes showing on the clock. However, Watts cleaned up Mitchell's only other missed attempt of the afternoon to make the difference 7 points and close out Aurora's comeback bid.
Besides Mitchell's big first half, the other decisive factor on the afternoon was Roosevelt's ownership of the glass, as the Rough Riders (5-13) finished with a plus-15 advantage.
The rebounding discrepancy was on the mind of Aurora coach Jim Wallish.
"I told my guys it is all about who gets to the ball first," said the first-year coach. "And for the first half -- three quarters -- we didn't get to the ball first."
Reminder led Aurora with 13 points and also sank three 3s. Fellow senior Ben Branscom had 10 for the Greenmen, who were minus one of their leading scorers -- Paul Kollat.
Much like his counterpart at Roosevelt, Wallish is very happy with how his team has worked and matured as the season has progressed, despite not having many wins to show for their effort.
"In all honesty, it has not been difficult at all," he said. "Every day these kids come in and practice harder than the teams I've had that have been successful. You normally think of a 1-19 team as kids arguing with each other. It's the exact opposite; if you came in and watched us practice, you'd think that we're a successful basketball team."
In Aurora's 60-50 loss to Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division foe Kenston, the Greenmen were up 47-41 heading into the final quarter, but the Bombers outscored them 19-12 in the fourth period.
Drew Daff, Kollat and Pavel Galchenko each canned 11 points, with Joe Dinardo getting 9 and Kendall Fayne 7.
The Greenmen, who closed out their CVC season with an 0-12 record, were to play Woodridge on Feb. 12 and will wind up regular season action Feb. 19 at home against Ravenna at 7:30 p.m.