Town Crier Sports Staff
Riverside appeared healthy and ready to go when Earle came to town for Tuesday night's 2A-3 conference showdown at Lake City, but when senior point guard Cody Richardson went down with an ankle injury in the second half the Bulldogs took full advantage to post hard earned 73-65 victory.
Riverside, besieged by the injury bug most of the season welcomed the return of Glen Graham to the line-up after a three week absence due to a knee injury. Riverside has also been without the services of Travis Mays and Casey Hook so Richardson's injury continued the Rebels string of bad luck.
The game see sawed back and forth for most of the night with Earle holding a slim 51-50 edge heading into the final frame.
Steven Meredith gave the Bulldogs a 53-50 cushion with a driving lay up to start the deciding fourth period before Riverside's Garrett Weaver scored the games next four points, including connecting on both ends of a one and one situation at the foul line to put the Rebels up 54-53 with 6:58 left in the game.
Earle regained the lead on a short jumper by Michael Wilson before Weaver gave Riverside what would be the Rebels last lead of the night 56-55 at the 6:22 mark. After Weaver's foul shots, Wilson struck again with another inside basket giving the Dogs' the lead for good 57-56 with exactly six minutes to go in the game.
Darren Weeden delivered a key blow to the Rebels chances with a long three pointer to up the Earle lead to 60-56 with 5:36 left and the Bulldogs followed that triple with a huge offensive stick back by Corbin McKenzie to push the lead to six at the 4:08 mark.
Riverside battled back cutting the lead 62-60 on an inside hook shot from Graham and a pair of free throws by Weaver at the 3:24 mark but that would be as close as the Rebs would get.
The Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run over the next two minutes to put the game away. Three different Dogs scored easy baskets by beating the Rebel press to go up 70-60 with 1:20 left in the game.
Riverside led most of the first half. The Rebels held a 13-12 edge after the first break and went into the dressing room at the half holding a 32-29 lead.
"Earle played better defense than we did tonight and that was the difference in the game, said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "I thought we were adequate on the boards, but they defended better than we did and that was the key to the whole ballgame."
Weaver led the Rebels with a game high 28 points while Graham recorded a double-double in his return with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Hook tallied nine, while Richardson scored seven, before leaving with a sprained ankle. Mays netted two, Blake Hogan added one and Bradley Tucker pitched one point and a game high 14 boards.
Meredith led the Bulldogs with 20 points and Weedon contributed 18.
In junior high action Earle held off the Rebels 56-50.
Archie Allen poured in 17 to lead the Dogs while Tashawn Perkins added 11.
Jake Love pumped in a game high 25 points to lead Riverside while Josh Anderson added 11 more. Morgan Fletcher scored seven, Jake Emery had five, and Luke Moyer pitched in two.
Riverside bounced back Friday night to outlast Marked Tree 58-50 at Caraway. Garrett Weaver led the Rebels with 22 points, while Glen Graham and Travis Mays scored 14 and 10 points respectively. Casey Hook netted five, Bradley Tucker had three, while Blake Hogan and Tyler Warhurst pitched in two points apiece.
Gavin Thompson led the Indians with 16 points.
Riverside claimed the junior high game with a 53-36 victory. Morgan Fletcher led the Rebels with 19 and Jake Love added 14. Cody Winford scored six, Jake Emery had four, Chris Hood tallied three, while Luke Moyer and Josh Anderson added two points each.
The Rebels will return to action Tuesday night when they travel to Bay for a 2A-3 conference game.
Riverside will begin play in the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament as the number one seed Saturday night at 7:30 against the winner of the Hillcrest-Walnut Ridge contest.