Town Crier sports Staff
In the first meeting between Riverside and Earle, the Bulldogs played without top scorer Ronnie Davis who was serving a one game suspension for disciplinary reasons. The Rebels took advantage to post a key conference victory and handed Earle their first league loss of the season at Earle. Thursday night at Caraway it was Riverside who was missing a key player as the Rebel's played without two-time all-conference forward Jordan Adcock, who missed his second game in a row due to a back injury. The Bulldogs took advantage of Adcock's absence and posted a 62-53 win to solidify their hold on first place in the 2A-3 conference race.
Senior Michael Lawrence, who has missed several games with a back injury of his own, gave the Rebels an early boost, teaming with 6'8" junior Glen Graham to score 12 of Riverside's 14 first period points as the Rebels held a 14-13 edge at the break.
Eddie Qualls, who led all scorers with 21 points, ripped a three pointer to begin the second stanza, tying the score at 16-16. The two teams traded leads throughout the second quarter before Qualls hit an eight footer to tie the game 28-28 at the 27 second mark. Qualls then stole an errant Rebel pass and was fouled with two seconds remaining in the half. The 6'2" senior calmly sank both free throws to give the Bulldogs a 30-28 halftime lead.
Earle took charge in the early part of the third quarter as Qualls continued his torrid shooting, nailing a 10-footer before drilling a long three pointer to put the Bulldogs up 35-28. Steven Meredith came up with back to back buckets to give Earle their biggest lead of the night, 39-28, completing a 13-0 Bulldog run.
Graham finally broke the Rebel scoring drought with back to back buckets, cutting the Bulldog lead to 39-32 at the 3:55 mark, but that was as close as Riverside would get. Earle took a 46-35 lead into the fourth quarter and never let the Rebels get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Riverside tried to make a comeback with their full court press, but the Bulldog's quickness proved too much for the Rebels to overcome as the Bulldogs improved to 15-6 overall and 11-2 in league play.
Davis pitched in 18 points for the Bulldogs, who finished 10-14 from the foul line. Earle nailed six treys on the night, including five in the first half.
Graham paced the Rebels with 17 points while Garrett Weaver pumped in 15 more. Lawrence scored seven points as did Cody Richardson and Casey Hook.
The Rebels hit 15-22 free throws and finished with four three pointers.
"We had all kinds of opportunities to build on our lead in the first half, but had too many wasted possessions," Riverside Coach Buster Campbell said. "We can't do that and win big ball games. We had 12 turnovers in the first half which is just unacceptable, and Earle didn't put that much pressure on us. In the second half we wilted. We were just out of gas. In the third quarter they just shredded our defense. They finished 7-7 from the field and were 12-15 in the second half. That's good shooting but it's also weak defense. We just panicked and took some bad looks. We didn't get the ball to the post enough. You could tell early they couldn't handle our inside players. But Earle has got an excellent ball club. They are so quick. They didn't shoot the ball well in our first meeting, but they did tonight. They would have been tough to beat anywhere the way they played tonight."
"We didn't have Ronnie Davis in the first game and he makes a big difference," Earle Coach Billy Murray said. "He adds so much quickness to our team and it really showed in the third quarter when we built our 10 point lead. It was just a team effort tonight. We really played well defensively. It was a good ball game. Riverside has a good team. This time they had one of their key players out which really hurt them. But they will be a team to be reckoned with in the district tournament. I hope they get Adcock back by the district tournament because I want to see who is the best team when we both have all of our players. I thought the difference tonight was, when we got the lead, we forced them to go man to man, which is not their cup of tea. Once we were able to pull them out of the zone we were able to make them play our game. This was a big win tonight."
Riverside began the week with a 67-65 double overtime win at Cross County.
Cody Richardson's three pointer at the end of regulation sent the game into overtime and the Rebels came away with the win in the second overtime.
Garrett Weaver led Riverside with 23 points while Glen Graham added 17. Richardson finished with 11 points while Casey Hook scored nine, all on three pointers. Michael Lawrence scored four and Caleb McCluskey added three for the Rebels, who were 19-31 from the foul line and hit four three pointers.
Bryan Hopkins led Cross County with 17 points while Jay Selvy and Dylan Karnes scored 13 and 12 points respectively. The Thunderbirds were 9-16 from the charity stripe and hit six three pointers.
The Rebels led 12-8 after the first period before the T-Birds rallied to tie the score 29-29 at the half. The two teams were even at 42-42 after three quarters and 56-56 at the end of regulation.
Riverside and Cross County were tied 59-59 after the first overtime before the Rebels outscored Cross County 8-6 in the second overtime to post the win.
In junior high action, Riverside raced past Cross County 54-33 before dropping a 40-11 decision to first place Earle.
In the Rebel's win over the Thunderbirds, Blake Hogan and Sam Elam scored 16 and 13 points respectively to pace the Rebels. Daniel McCormick netted nine points, Dewayne Schraeder and Josh Anderson tallied three points apiece while Josh Driver, Austin Davis, Chris Hood, Luke Moyer and Bradley Fletcher added two points apiece. The Rebels hit 5-7 free throws and made three treys.
Riverside led 17-9 after the first break and 34-16 at the half. The Rebels carried a 50-26 lead into the fourth quarter.
Michael Bowers led Cross County with nine points. The Thunderbirds finished 13-18 from the foul line and made two three pointers.
Michael Wilson pumped in a game high 27 points in Earle's 29 point win over Riverside.
The Rebels held a 3-2 first period advantage before the Bulldogs outscored Riverside 14-0 in the second quarter to take a 16-3 halftime lead. The Bulldogs led 24-6 after three quarters.
Riverside was led by Daniel McCormick with five points while Blake Hogan and Dewayne Schraeder added three points apiece.
The Rebels will resume action Tuesday night when they host Marked Tree at Lake City before closing out the conference regular season at Bay on Friday night.