LAKE CITY It was Senior Night for the Riverside Rebels Friday night at Lake City but it was a senior from Marmaduke who stole the limelight.
Josh Bateman poured in 33 points, including four treys and 13-13 free throw shooting, as the Greyhounds held off Riverside 65-53.
The victory clinched second place outright in the 3AA North Conference along with an automatic bid to the Regional Tournament which Marmaduke hosts. The Greyhounds improved to 28-7 overall and 10-4 in league play and will get a bye to the semi-finals in the District Tournament Feb. 17-23 at Bay.
It wasn't easy for the Hounds as they led only 26-20 after the first quarter and 38-35 at the half.
6'3" Senior Dustin Kelems, playing his last home game, kept the Reels close by scoring 18 points as Riverside entered the fourth quarter behind only by four, 53-49.
That's when things got interesting. Marmaduke spread the floor while the Reels played back in a loose man defense. For the first 4:35 of the quarter, Bateman held the ball near mid-court as the Rebels looked on.
When Riverside forced the issue, Bateman drove to the basket and was fouled. He sank both charity tosses and Marmaduke never looked back.
"It kind of happened by accident," said Greyhound Coach Steve Richey, referring to Marmaduke's holding the ball over half the final frame. "We wanted to spread the floor and let Josh beat them on the dribble hoping he would get a basket or go to the free throw line. I've never had a team hold the ball for that long before, it was very nerve racking," added Richey.
Richey praised his team's effort, especially Bateman.
"I'll take my chances with Josh handling the ball. He is an 80 percent free throw shooter and 90 percent when the game is on the line," Richey said. "I thought we competed so much harder than Tuesday night at Bay. Maybe the biggest thing for us was that we gave up only five or six offensive rebounds the entire game," concluded the Marmaduke head coach.
Riverside Coach Buster Campbell said Marmaduke made the plays at the end and the Rebels didn't. On letting the Hounds hold the ball for much of the fourth quarter, Campbell said foul trouble played a major factor in his decision.
"We liked our chances with only three minutes left on our home floor trailing by just four. We just got called too much for hand checking which I thought was a major factor in the game," said Campbell.
Campbell praised his team's effort and talked about his two departing seniors, Kelems and Joe Ellis.
"Dustin Kelems, you have to love him. He worked his butt off to become an All Conference player.
"Joe Ellis, they don't make them anywhere that play as hard as he does. I was proud of our whole effort tonight. This is just a very tough league," concluded the Rebel Coach.
The two Riverside seniors were both sad that this was their last home game.
"I'm going to miss this place," said Ellis. Kelems echoed those remarks.
Shane Jordan and John Clark scored 12 each to aid the Greyhound attack. Andrew Dodd had five points and played sticky defense all night. Kenneth Barham stuck in two, while Kyle Richey added one.
Riverside, who dropped to 12-16 overall and 6-8 in league play will play at Manila and East Poinsett County before facing Rector in the first round of District Tournament play.
Zach Ridge was the only other Rebel in double digits with 12 points. Ellis and Matt Owens each scored nine, while Zac Reynolds had four and Alex Smith pitched in one.
In Junior High action, Riverside clinched second place in the final conference standing with a 47-42 win. Jordan Adcock scorched the nets for the Rebels with a game high 22 points, including five three pointers. M.J. Emery added nine, while Tyler Timms scored seven to go along with 10 rebounds. Garrett Qualls scored four, Caleb McCluskey three, and Cody Rea rounded out the Rebel scoring with two.
With the win, the Rebels improve to 20-4 overall and 11-3 in conference play. The Junior Rebels opened District Tournament play against Maynard at 5:15 Monday at Rector.
Marmaduke, who finished third in league action, was led by Neil Thrash who had nine points. Nathan Haynes scored six, Mike Dobbins and Justin May each had five. Aarron Reddick added four, while Calvin Kincade scored one.