The Brookland Bearcats got the opening tip and immediately scored the first two points of the game in building up what seemed to be a safe 17-point lead, 31-14, before Riverside knew what had hit them. The Rebels scored the last three points of the first half to close within 14, 31-17 at the half.
Whatever Rebel coach Buster Campbell said to his troops in the locker room at intermission must have worked, as Riverside stormed from behind to post a 55-54 win over the Bearcats in overtime Friday night at Brookland.
Broookland led 18-10 after the first period, before taking their 14-point lead into the dressing room. Then the Rebels made their charge in the third quarter, cutting the lead in half, 42-35, entering the final frame.
The Bearcats, who used their height advantage over the smaller but quicker Rebels, started to fold under the continuous full court pressure by the Rebel defense in the second half. Six-foot-three senior Matt Owens, who was held to four points in the first half, exploded for 23 second half points to lead a furious Rebel charge, sending the game into overtime, tied 47-all.
Riverside had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Michael Dewitt's three-point attempt from the right corner banged off the rim, sending the contest into a four-minute overtime period in which Riverside jumped out quickly and never relinquished its lead in improving its overall record 15-6.
"We showed a lot of heart in the second half," said Riverside coach Buster Campbell. "We didn't shoot well at all, and dug ourselves a 170-point hole, but we didn't quit. Zac Ridge was a monster on the press in the second half, causing several deflections which led to Brookland turnovers and easy buckets for us. Brookland has a good ball club. This was a gut check game for us. I was extremely proud of the way we showed some guts in the second half," added Campbell.
"Riverside's pressure really bothered us in the second half," said Bearcat coach Mark Whitmire. "To Riverside's credit, they never quit, and they took control of the game late in the final period and in the overtime. I thought it was a battle between two good ball clubs. They have us on speed and we have them on size, which makes for an intriguing matchup. Buster does a great job with his team," concluded Whitmire.
"We didn(t come out as intense as we should have. We only put 17 points on the board in the first half. In the second half, we came out with a lot of intensity, and were patient with the ball," said Rebel star Matt Owens.
The Rebels had one other player in double figures as Zac Reynolds scored 10 points, while Ridge and Dewitt added nine each. The Rebels helped themselves by hitting 14-19 at the free throw line, while nailing five three-pointers.
Brookland was led by Newsome's 19 points and Morgan, who had a double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds. The Bearcats hit 10-12 from the foul line and pitched in four baskets from beyond the three point arc.
In junior high action, the undefeated Rebels stayed that way with a 60-50 victory over a pesky Bearcat club. Riverside's Jordan Adcock led all scorers with 25 points, while Caleb McCluskey finished with 11 points. Brandon Davis scored eight, while Travis Mays and Michael Lawrence added five points apiece. Garrett Weaver had four and Bradley Tucker chipped in two to round out the Rebel attack.
Brookland placed two players in double digits as Corey Cope burned the nets for 20 points, while Luke Vaughn added 10 more to lead the Bearcat scoring.
In the seventh grade game, Brookland came away with a 37-22 win over Riverside.
The Rebels return to action with two conference games this week as they host Walnut Ridge at Lake City on Tuesday and then entertain Rector Friday night at Caraway.