Bay derails Riverside's NEA title run, 49-40
Bay put together perhaps their best game of the season, and in the process, snuffed out Riverside's NEA Tournament title hopes with a 49-40 victory over the Rebels in Friday night's semifinals at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.
The Yellowjackets concentrated their defensive efforts on Riverside's Gavin Stone, often double or triple teaming the senior sharpshooter. Riverside was also hampered by foul trouble, and the Rebels never got into an offensive flow during the game.
The two teams battled to an 8-8 draw after the first quarter, but the Yellowjackets took the lead for good on a pair of Nolan Smith free throws to begin the second period. Six foot six inch sophomore center Slade Grove scored five consecutive points and Dustin Utley dropped in a long three pointer to help Bay build its lead to 22-16 at the 1:38 mark. Dylan Austin kept the Rebels close, scoring nine of his 10 points in the second stanza, but Riverside went into the dressing room at intermission down 22-19.
Bay increased their lead in the third period, and went up double digits at the 2:26 mark on Caleb Hargen's driving lay-in, 36-25. Stone nailed a three pointer to slice the Bay lead to eight, but Michael Barnett's 15-foot baseline jumper gave the 'Jackets a 38-28 advantage heading into the final frame.
Stone came away with a steal and a coast to coast lay-up to trim the Bay lead to 43-35 with 5:36 remaining, but a three point play by Smith, followed by a Taylor Layne three point bomb, stuck the final dagger in the Rebels and sent the Yellowjackets into Tuesday night's finals against East Poinsett County.
"I think that's the best we've played all year," said Bay Coach Brad Brannen. "We've had some good games, but that's the best execution we've displayed, especially on defense."
"We got out-played, out-coached and out-efforted," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "Bay played with a lot more intensity than we did. They made us play their style, and we never got into a flow. They had a great game plan and they executed it."
Layne topped the 'Jackets with 13 points while Utley tallied 11. Smith and Grove chipped in eight points apiece.
Stone paced the Rebels with a game high 15 while Austin chipped in 10. Braden Overman scored seven, Chris Sain had five, Landon Moyer netted two while Jon Milligan pitched in one point. Both teams connected on five three pointers each.
Riverside reached the semifinals by romping over Mammoth Spring 68-39 Wednesday. The Rebels stormed to a 25-3 lead out of the gate and held a 30-7 advantage after the first break. Riverside enjoyed a 43-22 lead at intermission and took a 60-30 advantage into the final frame.
Stone pumped in a game high 25 points to pace the Rebels. Sain scored 16, Milligan and Austin had eight points apiece, Overman tallied seven while Steven Stroud and Keech Wilmoth chipped in two points each.
Logan Skaggs poured in 19 points to lead the Bears while Sagen Godwin added 11.