Nothing has come easy for Riverside this basketball season, but the Rebels have found a way to win basketball games. Riverside now finds themselves in the semi-finals of the A-AA division of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament after two hard fought victories over East Poinsett County and Sloan Hendrix.
The fourth seeded Rebels opened the tournament with a 68-56 victory over the Warriors and then came back in the quarter-finals to knock off a stubborn Sloan Hendrix squad, 48-40.
Riverside used the hot hand of Garrett Weaver who knocked down five treys en rout to a 27 point performance in the Rebel's win over East Poinsett County. Weaver, who finished 6-6 from the foul line, was joined in double figures by Glen Graham who recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four blocked shots. Senior point guard Tyler Timms added 10 points and dished out five assists.
The Rebels held a slim 12-11 lead after the first quarter before stretching their advantage to 36-27 at the half. Riverside increased their advantage to eleven, 50-39, after three quarters of play.
After a see-saw first quarter, the two teams traded buckets early in the second period before Riverside went ahead for good, 20-18, at the 5:07 mark, when Cody Richardson hit the second of what would be six straight three pointers by the Rebels. Jordan Adcock started and finished the barrage while Weaver knocked down back to back treys and Timms also nailed one.
Keun Joplin, EPC's high scoring senior forward, tried to keep the Warriors in the game as he finished the night with a game high 35 points.
Riverside hit 10 three pointers on the night and shot 10-12 from the charity stripe. EPC hit seven treys, five of which came from Joplin, and completed the night 5-7 from the foul line.
Adcock pitched in eight points for the Rebels while Richardson scored six and handed out five assists. M.J. Emery and Michael Lawrence added two points each to complete the Rebel offensive output.
In the quarter-finals, Riverside topped Sloan Hendrix as the Rebels put three players in double digits led by Jordan Adcock's 14 points while Tyler Timms and Garrett Weaver pumped in 10 points apiece.
It marked the second time Riverside had knocked off the Greyhounds, having beaten them in the finals of the Williams Baptist Invitational Tournament in early December.
Riverside jumped to an early 5-0 lead before seeing the Greyhounds roar back with a 13-0 run of their own to grab a 13-5 lead with 2:18 left in the opening quarter. Sloan Hendrix dominated the offensive glass early on and held a 15-7 advantage going into the second period.
Sloan Hendrix built a 21-13 lead with 3:28 left when 6'5" senior Trevor Simpson grabbed a missed shot and stuck it back in. Riverside battled back when Timms dropped in back to back treys to pull Riverside within 25-23 at the half. However, the scoreboard read 25-22 and a debate over the proper score lasted throughout the half and delayed the start of the second half for several minutes. The officials finally settled on 25-23 Sloan Hendrix and play resumed.
The two teams traded buckets to open the third quarter before the Greyhounds went on a 5-0 run to take a 32-25 lead at the 4:14 mark. The Rebels battled back again and finished the quarter with a 7-0 run capped off by a Weaver trey that knotted the game 32-32 heading into the final period.
Riverside, who had not led since the opening minutes of the game, finally took the lead for good when Weaver stole the ball and fed Adcock, who scored and was fouled, giving Riverside a 40-38 lead with 3:17 remaining in the game. The Rebels salted the game away from the foul line by hitting 6-8 down the stretch while Sloan Hendrix could manage only one basket by Simpson the rest of the way.
Six foot seven inch sophomore Glen Graham scored seven points while fellow sophomore Cody Richardson pitched in five and Michael Lawrence added two. The Rebels finished 15-20 from the foul line and hit five three pointers on the night.
Sloan Hendrix was led by Simpson who scored 10 points. Senior guard Mitchell Wilson, who fouled out early in the fourth quarter, tallied nine and Corey Baldridge tacked on eight. The Greyhounds shot only two free throws and missed both.
"I thought we came out sluggish in the opening game against EPC," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "We didn't get any favors by drawing EPC in the first game. I don't know how they got seeded where they were. We came back and played well, especially on defense, against Sloan Hendrix. I thought both teams put out a good defensive effort. They are a very good team. They are 15-4, and two of those losses are against us. But we are tickled to be where we're at. We're looking forward to this match-up with BIC in prime time Friday."
The victory sets up the long awaited showdown with top seeded and arch rival Buffalo Island Central in the tournament's semi-finals. Riverside, who holds a 29-24 advantage in the series between the two schools, will attempt to break the Mustangs' seven game winning streak against the Rebels.