JONESBORO The third time was the charm for the Maynard Tigers as they finally found the formula to upend the Riverside Rebels and advance to the second round of the 56th annual Northeast Arkansas Invitational basketball tournament held at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.
The Rebels jumped out to a 4-0 lead but then the Tigers continuously beat the full court press of Riverside to score easy baskets, rallying the Tigers to a 75-69 victory.
Despite the defensive lapses, the 9-11 Rebels trailed only 28-24 at the half. But when Maynard's Braden Watson took the game over, scoring 23 of his game high 30 points in the second half, Riverside could never recover.
Riverside coach Buster Campbell said the difference from the previous two meetings with Maynard was the Tigers transition baskets. "We didn't get back on defense, they beat us shooting lay-ups, all that is is desire. They wanted the game more than we did."
Campbell added that Maynard has a "very talented offensive team," and "they did a great job containing Matt Owens."
Maynard Coach Bob Harpole said Riverside exploited his team's full court press for easy baskets in their first two meetings, but Monday's game was a different story: "The first two times we played them, they beat us down the floor. This time was a different story. We turned the tables on them. I thought the key to the game was our defense. We used a diamond and one to keep Owens from getting too many touches. Stopping him was the key. He does so much for them offensively, even when he's not scoring points."
The Rebels made one last charge when Joe Ellis hit a bucket with 2:56 to play to pull Riverside within three, 62-59. But Maynard, as they did all night, broke Riverside's full court press and Daniel Cagle converted a three point play followed by Josh Cagle's two pointer, and the Tigers put the game away.
Joining Watson in double figures for Maynard were the Cagle brothers who scored 15 each. Dustin Kelems led Riverside with 19 while Zac Reynolds chipped in 14. Ellis and Owens added eight a piece. Rounding out the Rebel scoring were Zach Ridge with six, Michael Dewitt with five, Alex Smith, four, and Shannon Timms, three.
After a sluggish start, Riverside found their game and blew out the Biggers-Reyno Buffaloes 67-38 in the opening game of the tournament.
The Rebels struggled to a 12-6 first quarter lead and only led 21-15 at the end of the first half. But things began to turn around in the third period when sophomore guard Zac Reynolds nailed back to back treys to ignite a Rebel surge to command a 48-28 lead at the end of the third quarter.
From then on, the Rebels used the inside play of Kelems who led Riverside in the win with 18 points to seal the victory.
Coach Buster Campbell said he was glad the team got their first game jitters out of the way.
"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take the win," he said. "We played a good second half. The first half Biggers-Reyno tried to hold the ball on us and we didn't adjust to that very well."
Campbell praised the play of junior Michael Dewitt stating, "He came off the bench and sparked us with a big three in the second half. He did some good things for us tonight."
In addition to Kelem's 18 points, Matt Owens scored 12, Dewitt had 10 and Reynolds tossed in 8 for the Rebels.
Zac Hoggard led the Buffaloes with 19 points.