It has been a roller coaster season for the Riverside Rebels. The Rebels struggled the first part of the season but still managed to squeak out victories, and by the holidays gained enough momentum to claim three tournament championships, capped off by winning the prestigious Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament in Jonesboro. But this rocky ride has taken a downward spiral in recent weeks.
The Rebels marched into Bay Friday night hoping to get their season back on track but instead dropped their third straight game and fifth in the last seven as the Yellowjackets stung Riverside 57-52 in 3AA North Conference action.
Riverside looked sharp in the early going as the Rebels jumped to an early 9-2 lead with 4:37 left in the first quarter. The Rebels had several opportunities to increase their lead but could not connect from the field and Bay gathered themselves, putting together a 7-0 run to tie the score 9-9, when junior Garrett Bollinger dropped home a 15-foot jumper with 31 seconds left in the quarter. Riverside received a break when Bay's Tyrone Harris fouled Garrett Weaver, who was attempting a three pointer with one second remaining in the first period, sending the sophomore guard to the free throw line where he calmly sank all three shots to give the Rebels a 12-9 lead heading into the second period.
Bay took the lead at the 6:18 mark of the second quarter when Justin Hager, the hero of the two team's first meeting, which Bay won in overtime on Hager's buzzer beating lay-up, scored from the inside, putting the Jackets ahead 13-12. Seth Southard's offensive rebound stick back after a Rebel turnover pushed the lead to 17-14.
Riverside finally connected from the field when Glen Graham scored from inside the paint with the Rebels' first field goal since the 4:37 mark of the first quarter. Bay stretched their lead to 22-17 at the half when Southard hit a five-foot bank shot with four seconds left in the half.
Bay continued to hold a slim lead throughout the third quarter and when Riverside's Cody Richardson banged home a three pointer, the Rebels were within one, 33-32 ,with 1:12 left in the period. Hager answered with a 12-foot jumper to give Bay a 35-32 lead entering the final frame.
Jordan Adcock ripped a three pointer to tie the score 35-35 to start the fourth quarter and then Weaver followed with another trey to give Riverside their first lead, 38-35, since early in the second quarter.
Ozzie Smith answered for Bay when he hit a five-foot floater and was fouled. Smith connected on the free throw to knot the score 38-38. Adcock came up with a steal and drove the length of the court for a basket to put the Rebels up 40-38, but Bay came up with their second straight three point play as Hager hit from 10-feet, was fouled, and made his free throw, putting the Jackets ahead 41-40 with 5:07 left in the game.
Riverside gained the lead once more when Graham drove the baseline and banked home a short jumper, making the score 42-41 with 4:52 left. Bay answered again when Bollinger hit a three pointer from just outside the arc, putting Bay on top for good, 44-42 at the 4:34 mark. The Jackets salted the game away from the free throw line, hitting 14-18 down the stretch.
Riverside drops to 20-8 overall and 4-6 in conference play. Bay improves to 18-7 and 6-3 in 3AA North action.
Graham paced the Rebels with 17 points while Weaver and Adcock scored 12 and 11 points respectively. Tyler Timms, M.J. Emery, Cody Richardson, and Travis Mays all scored three points apiece. The Rebels hit 8-11 from the free throw line and knocked down eight three pointers.
Bay was led by Hager and Will Scott, who both scored 16 points apiece. Ozzie Smith came up big off the bench for the Yellowjackets, scoring nine points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Smith went 5-5 from the foul line in the fourth period. Southard and Bollinger added eight points apiece. The Jackets finished 19-26 from the foul line and hit two treys.
"We have got to get tougher," said a disappointed Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "Bay made the plays when they had to and we didn't. There are no excuses. We have got to learn that you have to come prepared to play every night and we're not. This is a tough league and when you don't come to play you are going to get beat. You have to make your own breaks and we're not. We're just not doing what we need to do to win. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We will right the ship."
"I am very proud of our kids tonight," said Bay Coach Brandon Craig. "I thought the big key in the game was Ozzie Smith's play off the bench. When Riverside grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter, Smith hit a big shot and completed the three point play. He also nailed some big free throws down the stretch. I thought we did a great job on the offensive boards. That is something that has hurt us all year long but tonight we did much better. Hager and Scott both played well and we did a good job defensively, even though Riverside hit several three pointers. Riverside is a good team and they will be back."
The Rebels lost to Walnut Ridge for the second time in a week as the Bobcats knocked off the Rebels 66-59 in double overtime Tuesday night at Walnut Ridge.
Riverside trailed most of the game before finally taking a five point lead with 3:00 left in the game. But Walnut Ridge rallied and tied the score 46-46 by the end of regulation. The two teams battled on even terms in the first overtime but the Bobcats pulled away in the second overtime to upset the Rebels again.
Glen Graham led Riverside with 17 points. Tyler Timms netted nine, M.J. Emery tallied eight and Michael Lawrence tossed in seven to aid the Rebel cause.
Seth Chamblee scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Walnut Ridge. Chris Logan netted 15 points, Cameron Kelly tallied 12 while Cody Smith added 10. Adam Hufstedler helped out with 18 rebounds.
In junior high action, Riverside played two overtime games, winning the first 34-33 over Walnut Ridge before dropping a 53-46 heartbreaker to Bay.
Shaun Boatman and Jacob Love scored 11 points apiece while Tyler Warhurst added 10 more to lead the Rebels. Cameron Casey tallied eight, Cody O'Guinn had four, while Daniel McCormick pitched in two points.
Wade Hamilton pumped in a game high 26 points to pace the Jackets. Aaron Ballew also hit double figures with 11 points.
Riverside led 19-14 after the first quarter before Bay rallied to take a 26-25 halftime lead. The Rebels carried a 34-33 lead into the final quarter. The two teams finished regulation tied 44-44. Riverside was 7-12 from the free throw line and hit five treys while Bay went 13-24 from the charity stripe and nailed two three pointers.
Riverside won the seventh grade game 32-20. Chris Hood paced the Rebels with 13 points while Tyler Rolland added 10. Luke Moyer scored four, Josh Anderson netted three while M.J. Brewer added two points.
The Rebels will return to action Tuesday night when they square off against arch-rival Buffalo Island Central at Caraway. Riverside will travel to Maynard Friday night to take on the Tigers.