Rebels top Conference foe Bay, advance to NEA finals

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Town Crier Sports Staff

The Rebels didn't have to concern themselves with the dangers of grabbing a tiger by the tail in their second round meeting with Armorel Wednesday night in the NEA Tournament at the ASU Convocation Center. Riverside was too far out in front during most of the game to even know whether or not the Tigers had tails, coming away with a 50-32 victory that was never really in much doubt.

The Rebels got off to a quick start, jumping ahead 14-4 following the first quarter of play. Riverside's advantages were particularly shown in the final two minutes of the opening frame, as the number one seed grabbed seven offensive rebounds in a series which spanned nearly a full minute. The possession ended with a pair of free throws by Glen Graham, who outscored Armorel on his own in the period, netting six.

The second quarter began with four quick points by Armorel, but Riverside countered with a steal and fast break by Garrett Weaver, while Graham went up in the low post, scoring and adding a free throw to move the Rebels ahead 19-8 with 5:18 in the first half. Riverside wound down the first half with a 10-1 over the final four minutes, taking a 29-11 lead at intermission.

The third quarter was even more one-sided, with the Rebs outpacing the Tigers 11-3 en route to leading 40-14 through three. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Riverside was substituting freely and looking forward to meeting Bay in the semi-finals.

Defensively, the Rebels pressured Armorel, giving few good looks at the basket. When the tigers were able to shoot the ball, they were often limited to just one attempt as Riverside players swarmed to the ball.

"We were able to keep after them defensively and make them work for everything they got," Rebel coach Buster Campbell said.

Campbell was pleased with his team's performance.

"I thought we played pretty good. We came out and played hard. We were active on the boards on both ends of the floor. We did a good job of hitting the offensive boards. We were able to get two and even three or four opportunities because of offensive rebounds."

Weaver led Riverside with 16 points. Graham notched a double-double, scoring 11 and pulling down 12 rebounds. Other scorers were Cody Richardson 8, Casey Hook 6, Travis Mays 4, Cody O'Quinn 3 and Bryan Poe 2.

Hunter Kortan led Armorel with 20 points.

With the win, Riverside advanced to the semifinals on Thursday. They were scheduled to face conference foe Bay.

First round win over Walnut Ridge

The Rebels held off a late Walnut Ridge surge last Saturday, claiming a 57-51 opening round victory over the Bobcats. Riverside held slim advantages much of the night, leading 14-10 and 26-22 through the first half.

Walnut Ridge closed to within two, 53-51, in the game's final minutes, but a Richardson jumper lifted Riverside back up by four. Weaver added the final touch, setting the final score of 57-51 in place.

Weaver led the Rebels with 22 points. Graham and Richardson finished with 14 and 10, respectively. Hook added seven, while Bradley Rucker scored four points in the win.

Mitchell Thompson led Walnut Ridge with 10 in the loss.

A strong third quarter was the difference maker in the Riverside Rebels semifinal 50-42 win over Bay in the NEA Tournament at ASU Thursday night.

The Rebs took a small 22-18 lead into the second half, but were able to push the advantage to nine points heading into the final frame, 37-28. Garrett Weaver, who played strong on the night as a whole to finish with a game-high 27 points, scored six in the key quarter.

The nine point cushion would prove critical during a late push by Bay which saw the lead cut to just three points, 45-42, with about 30 seconds left in the game.

Again, Weaver would respond when his squad was in need, connecting on four straight free throws to push the lead to an all-but-unattainable 49-42 with just under 12 seconds showing. Glen Graham added the final touches, sinking one of two from the line with three seconds on the clock, setting the final in place.

It was a hard-fought game throughout. Riverside held a 12-7 lead through the first quarter, despite having troubles finding the range from beyond the three point arc. Tough defensive pressure countered the Rebels' longball woes, as they forced Bay in five turnovers in the game's first eight minutes.

Along with Weaver's 27, Graham was the only other Rebel to score in double figures with 10 points. Other scorers were Cody Richardson 5, Bradley Tucker 3, Casey Hook 3 and Blake Hogan 2.

Wade Hamilton and Troy Brown led Bay with 12 points each. Asa Ladd chipped in 11 in the loss.

By claiming the semifinal, the Rebels advanced to Saturday's final. Riverside is slated to face Cedar Ridge at 6 p.m.

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