Junior Rebels win back-to-back titles
Buster Campbell's Riverside junior high basketball squad showed what the term "team" really means as they put together a complete performance from start to finish despite playing without star center Glen Graham as the Rebels rolled to their second consecutive 3AA North District Tournament Championship with a 48-34 victory over second seeded Marmaduke Saturday night at Caraway.
Garrett Weaver followed up a 24 point semi-final performance by pouring in 21 more in the championship game while Cody Richardson was all over the floor and contributed 10 more as the Rebels dominated the Greyhounds and beat them for the fourth straight time this season.
The victory gave the Rebels their second tournament title of the season to go along with their 3AA North Conference championship. Riverside now has won back to back conference and district tournament titles and finished the year with a 26-2 record. The Rebels were 29-0 last season and 22-5 the previous year for a three year record of 77-7.
The championship game belonged to the Rebels from the very start as Riverside took a 13-9 lead after the first quarter which was as close as the Greyhounds would get. Riverside stretched their margin to 28-19 by the half and then blew the game open in the third quarter, taking a 38-24 lead entering the final frame.
Travis Mays added eight points and seven assists for the Rebels while Casey Hook scored five and Bradley Tucker, playing for the injured Graham, added four more in addition to snatching seven rebounds. The Rebels were 8-12 from the free throw line and hit six three pointers on the night, three of which came from Weaver, who was also a perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe.
Marmaduke was led by Dustin Ellis who scored 12 points while Chris Foresythe scored 11 more. Riverside held high scoring Trent Smith to only nine points on the night as Smith took an early exit to the bench with five fouls. The Greyhounds were 9-16 from the foul line and managed only one trey on the night.
"You would think when you play a team four times you might be able to pick them off once," said Marmaduke Coach Steve Richey. "But Riverside is just a great ball club. Coming over here, most of us were thinking we would be playing for second place. But then we find out that Graham (Glen) would not be able to play, and I think well, maybe BIC will get them, and if not, maybe we'll have a shot at them. But after watching them roll over BIC, I knew we would have a tough chore in the finals. I was hoping that it was just a one game thing, but we found it that they can play very well without him. Don't get me wrong, I wish I had a 6'7" freshman post player, it would have made us dang good, but Riverside was even more athletic and their press really gave us problems."
"The one thing I noticed was that some of the players that had been looking for Graham all year were now looking to score and were being much more aggressive. You have to give them a lot of credit for that. We had a great year, finishing 20-9. All the teams we lost to had winning records, and four of those losses came from Riverside, which we had down in the second half in two of those games. You have to give Riverside a lot of credit for the job they did tonight on Trent Smith and Chris Foresythe. Despite losing tonight, it has been a good year and a fun year. I really like this bunch of kids. They have improved and I look forward to having some good teams in the next few years," concluded Richey.
"This win was real sweet," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "It's been some week, winning this tournament, having my daughter play in the junior high district, and playing two senior high games this week. This team showed what it was made of. We beat two real good clubs in the semi-finals and finals in BIC and Marmaduke. Our kids showed a lot of character and I thought Bradley Tucker did an excellent job in place of Glen Graham. I thought we did the best job defensively that we've done all year as far as finding Marmaduke's two best scorers, Smith (Trent) and Foresythe (Chris). This team (Riverside) can play good defense. It's hard to make a run on a team when you play defense like we do and that's been the formula for our success the last three seasons."
"I was proud that we got five players on the all-conference team, but as I told the players, that is an individual award, and you don't get that unless you play together as a team, and that's what this bunch has done. We've won back to back conference and district championships now, and we were runner up the year before. Our three year record with this group of kids has been 77-7, which is hard to beat. We really played well tonight. I am really tickled. Like I said before, we beat two very good teams the last two games and we did it handily. I think we have some good things coming if we continue to work hard, which I think this group will do," concluded an elated Campbell.
Riverside advanced to the finals with an easy 44-20 win over eighth seeded Walnut Ridge on Monday night. Glen Graham and Garrett Weaver led the Rebels with 10 points apiece. Casey Hook scored seven, Cody Richardson had six, Dustin Foster scored four, Travis Mays, Justin Kelems, and Chad Olive netted two each while Nick Bagley contributed one for the Rebels.
Walnut Ridge was led by Tyler Meadors who scored 11 points.