Episcopal Collegiate ends Riverside's state championship hopes
Episcopal 65, Riverside 48
Episcopal Collegiate out-scored Riverside 17-1 in the final 5:25 of Saturday's Class 3A State semifinal showdown at Bald Knob, as the Wildcats downed the Rebels 65-48. It was a disappointing loss for five Rebel seniors, who saw their careers come to a close one game shy of a state finals trip to Hot Springs.
Riverside, who finished the season 31-12, trailed by just a single point, 48-47, with 5:25 left in the game. But that's when the wheels began to fall off for the Rebels. Gavin Hawkins, the Wildcats' 6'6" forward, buried a three pointer from deep in the right corner, igniting an Episcopal Collegiate surge into this week's finals. Khalen Robinson followed with a steal and coast to coast layup, increasing the Wildcat margin to six. After a Rebel miss, Robinson was fouled, and the freshman guard sank both charity tosses to up the Wildcat lead to 55-47 at the 4:06 mark.
Riverside continued to misfire from the field, and Hawkins struck again with a driving lay-in with 3:07 to go, pushing the Episcopal lead to 10 points. Riverside could not find the basket and was forced to foul, sending the Wildcats to the charity line six times over the final 1:22. Episcopal converted all six attempts and built their lead to 63-48. A final basket in the closing seconds set the final score and earned the Wildcats a trip to Hot Springs in the championship round Saturday night against Tuckerman.
"It was not a good ending to a great year," said an obviously disappointed Buster Campbell. "We scored just one field goal in the fourth quarter, and when you do that, you're going to get beat. We cut the lead to just one point with 5:25 left, and then scored just one point the rest of the way. We didn't stick to our game plan very well. They beat us shooting layups. Their two guards, Robinson and Brasfield, got to the hole on us all day. We didn't contain them and their quickness bothered us more than I thought it would. These kids have had a great run, and I don't think too many people thought we'd be in the final four when the season started. It wasn't our best effort, but the kids played hard, and I'm proud of them. I'm not going to fuss at them; shoot, they won 31 ballgames. It was a great year."
Riverside got off to a fast start, with Gavin Stone scoring seven straight points to give the Rebels an early 7-2 lead. But the Wildcats clawed their way back, with Robinson draining consecutive treys to give Episcopal a 12-9 lead at the 2:25 mark. Kamron Brasfield's lay-up closed out the quarter with the 'Cats up 14-11.
Episcopal threatened to blow the game open in the second stanza when the Wildcats forced the Rebels into six turnovers, building a 29-16 lead with 2:21 left in the half. But Brasfield was whistled for a technical foul, turning the momentum back Riverside's way. Stone hit both technical foul shots and followed with a driving lay-in off the glass to trim the Episcopal lead to 29-23. Chris Sain closed the half with a short jumper as the Rebels headed to the dressing room down six, 31-25.
The third quarter was played on even terms until the Rebels closed to within three late in the period on a Stone three-pointer from beyond the top of the key. Robinson canned a pair of free throws to send Episcopal into the fourth quarter with a 46-41 advantage.
Dylan Austin's three-pointer with 6:17 left in the game pulled the Rebels to within 48-46. A Wildcat turnover led to a foul on Stone, sending the senior standout to the charity stripe. Stone misfired on the first attempt, then downed the second to slice the Wildcat lead to 48-47, but that was as close as Riverside would get.
Stone closed out a brilliant career with a game high 29 points, including four three pointers. Sain scored nine, Braden Overman netted five, Austin tallied three while Jon Milligan added two points. Riverside connected on seven of 18 from beyond the three-point arc and hit 9-11 foul shots. The Rebels had just nine two pointers on the day. Episcopal Collegiate's zone trap bothered the Rebels all day, forcing Riverside into 18 turnovers.
Robinson topped the Wildcats with 26 points. Brasfield scored 14, Hawkins had 12 while Treylon Payne added 11. Episcopal Collegiate connected on 12-14 free throws and sank three treys.
Riverside 65, Charleston 60 in state quarterfinals
Riverside advanced to the state semifinals with a hard fought 65-60 victory over Charleston in Thursday night's quarterfinals. The Rebels led by as many as 15 points early in the third quarter but held off a strong second half surge by the Tigers to advance to the semifinals.
Stone poured in 28 points to lead the Rebels while Sain pumped in 18 and Overman and Austin added 10 and nine points respectively.
Chase Ewing topped the Tigers with 21 points. Brandon Fenner, the state record holder in three pointer's made, scored 19, while Phillip Hampton added 16.
The two teams battled to a 13-13 tie after the first quarter, with Hampton scoring eight of Charleston's 13 points. The second quarter belonged to Stone and the Rebels, who outscored the Tigers 19-7 to grab a 32-20 halftime advantage. The Rebels knocked down three treys during the quarter and got nine points from Stone.
Stone's three-point play to begin the second half gave Riverside a 35-20 lead, but Charleston outscored the Rebels 20-9 the rest of the period, and closed to within 44-40 heading into the final frame. Three consecutive treys, one by Fenner and back to back triples by Ewing, ignited the Tiger run.
The Rebels began to stretch their lead back out early in the fourth quarter, getting seven consecutive points from Stone to take a 53-45 lead with 3:26 remaining. Riverside upped the margin to 10, but watched the Tigers charge back one last time when Fenner and Ewing banged home two three pointers each to close to within 60-57 with 1:22 showing on the clock. The Rebels put the game away when Sain muscled his way to an inside bucket while being fouled. The 6'3" senior finished off the three-point play to put Riverside up 64-57 with 41 seconds to go.
Riverside struggled down the stretch at the foul line, hitting just three of its last nine attempts, keeping the Tigers within striking distance. On the night, the Rebels sank 11-18 attempts. Riverside knocked down seven of 18 three pointers and committed 11 turnovers.
Charleston hit seven of 10 foul shots and nine of 25 three pointers, including five by Ewing. The Tigers were hurt by committing 18 turnovers.
"We played great until the last few minutes of the game, and then we just tried to give it away," Campbell said. "We couldn't hit free throws and we threw the ball away. They just won't let me relax. We tried to make it exciting, but I've got to give these kids credit. I don't think there are a lot of people who thought we would beat Charleston after what they did to Junction City last night. These kids came out and really played their butts off. All these kids played great, but Overman should probably get the game ball for the job he did on Brandon Fenner. Everything Fenner got tonight, he earned. And what about Milligan? How many charges did he get tonight, four? And Gavin was Gavin. Austin hit some big three's including one toward the end. Sain hit a couple of big three pointers early that really got us going. I'm so proud of them. It was a great win."
Riverside 63, Kipp Delta 54 first round of state tournament
Riverside struggled with underdog KIPP Delta for a half before finally putting away the Panthers 63-54 in first round action of the Class 3A Tournament Tuesday afternoon at Bald Knob.
KIPP Delta, who entered the game with an 8-10 record, jumped to a 14-11 lead over the favored Rebels after the first period. Riverside had taken an 11-9 lead on a Sain steal and one handed slam, but the Panthers scored the last five points of the quarter to take a three point lead at the break.
KIPP led by as many as seven points in the second period, holding a 25-18 advantage with 2:45 left before intermission. But Austin drained back to back treys and the Rebels went on a 13-6 run to square the game 31-all at halftime.
The two teams exchanged leads throughout much of the third quarter until Landon Moyer's three point play at the 2:43 mark gave Riverside the lead for good, 42-39. The Rebels took a 45-41 advantage into the final frame.
Riverside connected on 9-12 foul shots in the fourth quarter to close out the victory.
Stone scored a game high 28 points, including a 13-14 performance from the foul line to lead the Rebels. Overman and Sain tallied nine points apiece, Austin contributed eight, Moyer had five while Milligan chipped in four points. Riverside finished 20-24 from the foul line and sank three treys.
Barry Williams led KIPP Delta with 21 points while Shamarkus Otey added 10. KIPP hit eight of nine foul shots and drained a pair of three pointers.