Town Crier Sports Staff
Coming into Saturday night's Regional Tournament championship game at Rector, Riverside was on a roll. The Rebels were fresh off the 2A-3 District Tournament Championship and had steam-rolled their first two opponents in the Region 2A North Tournament by a combined 56 points.
There was no reason to think Crowley's Ridge Academy could stop the Rebels Saturday night, considering Riverside had just defeated the Falcons a week ago in the district finals. But the Falcons had other ideas, erasing a nine point third period Rebel lead to shock Riverside 51-42 and claim the 2A North Region Championship.
The Rebels held a 26-17 advantage at the 7:10 mark of the third quarter when CRA's Steven Ramsey drilled back to back treys, cutting the Rebel lead to 27-23. A Riverside turnover led to a lay-up by Tournament Most Valuable Player Alan Williams, and when Brandon Webb nailed a three pointer from the left corner at the 4:17 mark, the Falcons had their first lead since the opening minute of the game, 28-26.
The two teams battled on even terms the rest of the quarter, and headed into the final period tied at 33-33.
Webb began the fourth period with another three pointer and Michael Davis followed with a 12-footer, giving CRA a 38-33 lead. Riverside's Garrett Weaver drilled a three pointer of his own to cut the Falcon lead to two, but Webb answered with his third trey of the half, pushing the CRA lead to 41-37 at the 5:34 mark. Weaver came back with one more three pointer to trim the Falcon lead to 41-40 with 5:02 remaining, but the Rebels would score just one more basket the rest of the way while committing five fourth period turnovers.
The Falcons salted the game away by hitting six straight free throws down the stretch. It was a landmark victory for the Falcons, who just joined the league this season after participating in Class A basketball last year.
"It's a big accomplishment for us," said Falcon Coach Al Williams. "This conference has made us a much better team. This is such a tough conference, night in, night out, you have games just like tonight, and it makes you tournament ready. I thought our defense was the difference tonight. We did a great job on Glen (Graham) especially in the second half. We did a good job on defending their three's in the second half. Steven Ramsey and Brandon Webb hit some big three pointers in the second half that really helped us. I am extremely proud of the kids."
"When CRA made their run in the third quarter, we quit running our offense," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "After the first three minutes of the third quarter, we didn't run our offense again. We just stood around and dribbled around the perimeter, and when we do that we are not very good. I thought we had corrected that. But CRA is a good ball club. Coach Williams does a great job, they are solid. But the good news is we are going to the state tournament. We are capable of going down there and winning it, but if we don't play ball we could get beat the first game."
Riverside placed three players in double figures, led by Garrett Weaver who scored 14 points. Glen Graham netted 12 while Jordan Adcock added 10. Cody Richardson tallied five points while Michael Lawrence added one. The Rebels hit 6-9 from the foul line and connected on six three pointers.
Riverside held an 11-8 lead after the first period and went into the dressing room with a 22-17 halftime advantage.
Brandon Webb led CRA with 16 points while Alan Williams added 10. The Falcons also hit six treys, four by Webb. CRA finished 11-16 from the foul line.
Riverside received their ticket to the state tournament with an 82-47 thrashing of Tuckerman Wednesday night. The Rebels blew the game open in the first quarter, racing to a 29-7 lead. Tuckerman tried to rally in the second period, and used a 9-0 run to cut the Rebel lead to 40-28 at the half, but Riverside took control again in the third quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs 23-7 to take a 63-35 lead into the final frame.
Riverside was led by Garrett Weaver who scored 25 points while Cody Richardson added 17 and Glen Graham notched 13 points. Jordan Adcock scored eight, Caleb McCluskey and Casey Hook had six points apiece, Michael Lawrence and Nick Bagley tallied three points each, while Tyler Warhurst added one. The Rebels hit 30-37 free throws and drilled 10 three pointers on the night.
Tuckerman was led by Cash Jiles and Alex Sullins who scored 11 points apiece. Hunter Gates added 10 for the Bulldogs, who were 8-16 from the foul line and hit five treys.
The Rebels met Earle in the semi-finals and came away with a 68-47 win. The mercy rule came into play at the start of the fourth quarter, with Riverside holding a 63-33 lead.
Riverside bolted to a 17-5 lead after the first period, and held a 38-17 halftime advantage. The Rebels placed four players in double figures, led by Garrett Weaver's 20 points. Glen Graham recorded a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Jordan Adcock connected for 15 points and pulled down eight boards. Cody Richardson scored 12 points, dished out five assists and had five steals. Michael Lawrence netted three points and grabbed eight rebounds while Caleb McCluskey scored one point. The Rebels hit 22-28 from the foul line and made three treys.
Earle (22-8) was led by Steven Meredith who scored 15 points while Justin Pounds added 11. The Bulldogs hit 3-10 free throws and made four three pointers.
Riverside (31-10) will enter the state tournament as the number two seed from the North Region, and will play Augusta, the number three seed from the East, in a 5:30 p.m. match-up Thursday night at Danville.