Riverside outlasts Manila 62-61 in 3A Regional finals
The stakes were high and the house was full in Saturday night's 3A Regional final at Lake City between old rivals Riverside and Manila. In the end it was the host Rebels who made just enough big plays to hold off the Lions to squeak out a 62-61 thriller that left the big crowd breathless.
For the five Rebel senior starters, it was a night they will never forget, as Riverside captured its second ever regional title in school history.
As he has the entire tournament, Rebel senior guard Gavin Stone ripped the nets, pouring in 32 points, while making big play after big play to help Riverside turn back the Lions. Stone, who averaged 32 points in the tournament, fed Chris Sain, who was all alone under the goal with 10 seconds showing on the clock. The 6'3" senior post player stuck in the game-clincher, giving the Rebels the title and setting off a wild Riverside celebration.
The Lions clung to an 11-10 edge after the first break thanks to Brock Birmingham's three consecutive three pointers to begin the game. Stone brought the Rebels back, closing the quarter with five straight points to trim the Manila lead to a single point.
Joel Burrow and Birmingham nailed a pair of triples to kick off the second stanza as the Lions pushed their lead to 21-13 at the 4:57 mark. But the Rebels answered with a 7-0 run, starting with a Braden Overman three- point play and coupled with four consecutive Stone free throws that sliced the lead to one, 21-20. Matthew May converted a three-point play of his own and Daley Belew followed with a trey to push the Lion lead to 29-23 with 1:01 to go before half. Overman drove the lane for a bucket before Stone found Landon Moyer in the corner as the clock wound down. Moyer threw up a prayer that banked off the glass and fell through the net for a three pointer, just ahead of the buzzer, cutting the Lion lead to 29-28 at the half.
Trailing by four early in the third stanza, the Rebels went on a 13-0 surge. Stone buried a three and followed with a steal and a coast to coast lay-up to put the Rebels on top to stay, 34-33, with 6:13 remaining in the period. Riverside capped off their run with back to back baskets from Sain and Dylan Austin to go up 44-33 at the 2:27 mark. Manila scored the final six points of the quarter to slice the Riverside lead to 44-39 heading into the final frame.
The Rebels led 52-45 with 3:19 left in the game after a Stone three-point play and had possession of the ball. But a traveling call on Stone gave the Lions new life. Bradey Woodall knifed through the Rebel defense for two, then blocked an Austin shot and drew a foul. Woodall sank both charity tosses to trim the Riverside lead to 52-49 with 2:33 remaining. Sain knocked down a pair of free throws to up the Rebel lead to five, but Woodall answered with a drive to the hole to cut the lead back to 54-51 with 2:05 to go.
A pair of Overman foul shots upped the Riverside margin back to five, and when Stone picked off a Lion pass and hit a pull-up 10-footer, the Rebels had a 58-51 lead with only 1:39 left in the game.
Manila desperately tried to rally. May scored on an inside move before Birmingham drained a long three from the corner and suddenly the Lions were within two, 58-56 with 1:01 to go.
Stone came up big, calmly sinking a pair of free throws with 27 ticks left on the clock to put the Rebels up 60-56. Brian Gonzalez powered in an offensive rebound to slice the lead to 60-58 at the 21 second mark. But Stone's assist to Sain proved to be the game winner. Woodall, who scored 15 fourth quarter points for the Lions, banged home at trey with 2.6 seconds left, but the Lions were out of time outs and the clock ran out, giving the Rebels the championship.
Joining Stone in double figures for the Rebels was Overman with 13. Sain had seven, Austin scored five, Moyer netted three, while Jon Milligan added two. Riverside dropped in 21-23 foul shots, including 12-13 in the pivotal fourth quarter. The Rebels nailed three treys.
Birmingham and Woodall paced the Lions with 19 apiece. May scored 11, Joel Burrow and Daley Belew tallied three points each while Gonzalez, Dylon Carruth, and Conner Belew all chipped in two points apiece. The Lions hit 11-13 free throws and knocked down eight threes.
"It was a fun game," Stone said. "At the end, we were just trying to pull out the W. To win the second regional title in school history is big. I'm really proud of this."
"This is great," exclaimed Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "I knew it would be a close game. Those are two good ball clubs. Manila is well coached; Lee does a great job. I knew when we were up 11 they would come back and they did. We rebounded the ball well. Overman, Sain, and Milligan controlled the boards for us and Stone had another great game. We made plays when we had to. We made some big free throws down the stretch. This was the last home game for our seniors and we talked about this. We wanted to make a great memory and we did."