Town Crier Sports Staff
The Riverside Rebels celebrated the holidays in championship style, as the squad took home their second straight NEA Tournament title. The Rebels outlasted the Izard County Consolidated (ICC) Cougars in the A-AA bracket on Saturday, coming away with a 69-60 victory.
"I'm proud of this team," Riverside head coach Buster Campbell said. "It's hard to win this thing two years in a row. These kids deserve a lot of credit. There was a lot of pressure coming in here after last year, but they stepped up."
The pressure was perhaps at its highest point for the Rebels in the third quarter of the championship contest.
Riverside watched a seven-point lead evaporate, as Izard County fought back to within one, 42-41, on a three-pointer by Kyle McCandlis with 1:39 left in the third.
The Rebels persevered, however, as Garrett Weaver made the front end of a pair of free throws and Jordan Adcock buried a three at the buzzer as Riverside moved out to a 46-41 advantage heading into the last stanza.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Rebels, thanks in large part to the interior presence of 6-8 center Glen Graham. Graham scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth, connecting on six of seven free throw attempts in the quarter. The ICC defense was unable to stop the big man down low, as Riverside continued to move the ball inside.
"In the fourth quarter, we did a good job of getting the ball in to Graham," Campbell said. "He got to the basket and made his free throws down the stretch."
It was anyone's game in the first half, as the teams were tied at 12-12 after the first quarter. Riverside led 34-31 at halftime.
The Rebels played well as a team, as four players scored in double figures on the night. Weaver joined Graham with a team-high 19. Cody Richardson netted 14 in the win. Adcock added 10 points. Other scorers were Caleb McCluskey 4, Cody Hook 2 and Cameron Casey 1.
"I thought this team really came together during this tournament," Campbell said. "We played well as a team. Every night was a team effort. Everyone looks for Adcock, Graham and Weaver, but Cody Richardson, McCluskey and Hook really stepped up for us. We did this as a team."
Adcock, Graham, Weaver and Richardson were selected to the All-NEA Team, showcasing the Rebels' team-oriented play in their four games of the tourney.