Riverside Junior Rebels were hoping the third time would be the charm against the Bay Yellowjackets when the two teams clashed in the first round of the 3AA North Junior High District Tournament Monday afternoon at Monette. But as in the other two meetings, Bay was able to pull out another close victory as the Jackets ended the Rebel's season with a hard fought 50-44 win.
In the first meeting the Rebels fell just short of pulling out a come from behind victory and then dropped a heartbreaking overtime loss to Bay in the two teams' second encounter. This game proved to be more of the same as Riverside had two chances to tie the game and send it into overtime in the final minute of action. The Yellowjackets hit just enough free throws to hold off Riverside and advance to a semi-final match-up against top seeded and conference champion Piggott.
The Rebels outscored Bay in every quarter except the first, which proved to be the difference in the game. Bay streaked to a 16-3 first quarter lead as the Rebels came out ice cold from the field. Riverside gained their composure in the second quarter, outscoring Bay 14-13 to pull within 29-17 at the half.
Riverside chipped away at the Bay lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Jackets 15-12 to cut the margin to single digits, 41-32, entering the final quarter. The Rebels pulled to within 41-34 with 4:01 left in the game and looked to be in good shape but again went cold from the field. Riverside used a strong defensive effort to keep Bay from putting the game out of reach and finally broke the ice with 1:36 to go when Cameron Casey nailed a three pointer.
Bay's Tim Nix sank both ends of a one and one to push the Jacket lead back to 47-42 but the Rebel's Daniel McCormick answered with a running seven footer with 29.9 seconds to go to make it a one possession game, 47-44.
Riverside set up in their full court press and appeared to have forced a traveling violation by Bay's Aaron Ballew. But the Rebels didn't get the call and were forced to foul, sending Ballew to the line where he made one of two foul shots to put Bay up 48-44 with 16 seconds remaining. Riverside then turned the ball over and Nix put the game away with a pair of free shots, setting the final score at 50-44.
Despite being held without a field goal in the fourth quarter, Bay was able to win the game by going 9-13 from the free throw stripe. Bay finished the night 13-22 from the foul line while Riverside only managed to get to the charity stripe nine times, connecting on three.
The Yellowjackets placed three players in double digits led by Wade Hamilton's 19 points. Tim Nix hurt the Rebels at crucial junctures in the game and pumped in 14 points while Ballew added 11.
The Rebels, who were playing without starting point guard Tyler Warhurst who broke his arm in practice a day earlier, were led by Daniel McCormick who scored 11 points. McCormick also dished out three assists and had two steals. Seventh grader Jacob Love also finished in double figures with 10 points. Cameron Casey tallied nine points, all coming from beyond the arc. Cody O'Guinn, who led Riverside with five rebounds, scored six points as did Shaun Boatman. Brastain James rounded out the Rebel attack with two points.
"We just dug ourselves too deep a hole in the first quarter," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "But as they did all year long, they battled back and never gave up. Some people didn't think we would win a game, but we fooled them. We played hard every night and I thought we were fun to watch. We played some very good teams close and as the season wore on we continued to improve and that's what it's all about. I really enjoyed coaching this bunch."
Riverside finished the season with a 9-15 record.