Riverside built up what seemed to be a commanding 15 point lead in the early going of Friday night's semi-final game against Viola in the Williams Baptist Invitational Tournament at Walnut Ridge.
But the Longhorns made a defensive adjustment, confusing the Rebels offensively, as they battled back to take a 71-68 come from behind overtime victory, leaving Riverside frustrated and disappointed.
Riverside led 21-10 after the first quarter, before watching Viola battle back to tie the score 27-27 at halftime. Led by junior transfer Caleb West, the Longhorns forged ahead in the third quarter, taking a 44-41 lead.
With less than a minute to play in the game, the Longhorns held a three point lead, until Riverside's M.J. Emery hit a three point bomb from the right corner to tie the game at 60-60. Viola played for the last shot, but a turnover with 2.8 seconds left gave Riverside one last chance to win the game in regulation. However, a half court shot was wide of the mark, and the game went into overtime.
Viola scored the first six points of the overtime period, and used clutch free throws down the stretch to snatch away the victory, propelling them into Saturday night's championship game against Marmaduke.
Riverside was led by Zach Ridge, who dominated the early part of the game on the inside, as the 6'4" senior finished with 25 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Zac Reynolds poured in 18 more to go along with 10 assists, eight steals, and three blocked shots. Jordan Adcock scored eight points, Tyler Timms had six points, six assists and three steals, Brandon Davis netted six points and five rebounds, while Emery finished with five points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Rebels finished the night 14-18 at the charity stripe and hit eight three pointers on the night.
Viola was led by West who scored 20 points. He was joined by three other Longhorns in double figures as Cody Hutson had 12, while Tyler Richardson and Ryan Walker added 10 points apiece. The Longhorns were 12-19 at the free throw line and nailed five treys on the night.
"We thought we could play with them," said Viola Head Coach Jeremy Lewis. "I talked to the kids before the game about being ready to go, but it was obvious in the first quarter we were not ready to play. But after we took a couple of time outs and switched to the zone defense, the game seemed to turn our way. We were able to chip away at the lead and I felt like from the middle of the second quarter through the rest of the game the momentum was all on our side. We played hard and never quit, so I would have been proud of them, win or lose, tonight. Everybody did their job. I couldn(t be prouder of a team," concluded Lewis, whose Longhorns improved to 9-4 on the year.
"We got off to a good start and then Viola went zone and we are still trying to figure it out," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "We had talked about dribble penetration, so we should have eaten their zone defense up just like we did their man to man. I am frustrated. I guess I just didn't have them prepared for that. Our guards didn't handle their (Viola's) switching defenses. Ridge (Zach) got 25 points and should have had 40, but that wasn't his fault. We just didn't get him the ball," added Campbell.
"We didn't shoot enough two pointers and didn't get to the free throw line enough," continued Campbell. "There is a reason for that. We are not attacking the basket. We have talked and talked about not circling the wagons and just shooting threes when the opponent goes to a zone defense. But we did it anyway. So, we will either get better at it or you will see some new faces out there," concluded a frustrated Campbell, whose team fell to 7-5 on the year.
Riverside had advanced to the semi-finals by pulling out a 56-55 victory over Swifton on Tuesday night.
Zach Ridge paced the Rebels with 15 points, while Zac Reynolds added 14 points, eight assists and five steals. Jordan Adcock produced a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. M.J. Emery scored nine points while Tyler Timms added six points and six assists and Blake Stotts chipped in two points to round out the Riverside scoring.
Swifton was led by Scotty Howard's game high 26 points, which included 6-7 at the free throw line in addition to four three pointers. The Pirates had two other players in double figures, as Jordan Baughn scored 12 and Charlie Adams added 11.
Riverside led 16-14 after the first quarter, and 31-27 at the half. The Pirates closed to within two, at 42-40 after three quarters.
Riverside sank 5-10 free throws and nailed five three pointers on the night, while Swifton shot a sweltering 12-14 at the charity stripe and poured in seven treys on the evening.
Riverside will begin play in the Gerald Jennings Holiday Tournament Monday night at Marked Tree as the number two seed. The Rebels will play seventh seeded Armorel at 7:45.