Leader Blues

Thursday, December 14, 2006

SPORTS>> Raiders get crucial road victory at Abundant Life

By JASON KING
Leader sportwriter

Riverview opened the 2-3A Conference season with a pair of road wins at Abundant Life on Tuesday night. The Lady Raiders took advantage of a much deeper bench for a mercy-ruled 68-50 win over the Lady Owls, but the Raiders had to sweat out a late surge from the Owls to barely escape with a 54-48 win. Junior guard Colby Woolverton kept the Owls alive late, hitting 4 for 4 from the free- throw line during the final minute after being held to just five points through the first three quarters. Riverview put big 6’4” senior post Tony Hall at the front to defend the explosive Woolverton, making for a unique matchup on the floor.

“This was a great win for us,” Raiders coach Dennis Starkey said. “We have been playing some really good teams, but we’ve been dropping it at the end. This was a quality finish to a game, because Abundant Life is a great team, so we’re very excited about the outcome.” Owls senior John Selby helped Abundant Life rush out to an 11-3 lead in the opening moments of the game. Selby dominated the boards in the opening minutes, pulling down four straight rebounds, three of them defensive.
Threes from Woolverton and John Michael Fowler gave the Owls a nice lead early, and a basket and free throw from senior post Thomas Cheney put Abundant Life up 11-3 at the 5:18 mark of the opening quarter.

Hall finally began to answer Selby inside for the Raiders late in the first. Hall pulled down three late rebounds, and hit a pair of free throws just before the end of the first frame to narrow the Owls’ lead to 13-10, but Cheney got in the last shot before the buzzer for 15-10 AL lead at the end of one quarter. The Owls held on to the lead until 3:16 left in the first half, when a dispute over a foul called against Abundant Life resulted in a technical foul against the Owls’ bench. Hall hit both of the T’s to give the Raiders their first lead of the contest at 20-19. They would never relinquish that lead, but they never were able to extend out to a comfortable margin.

The Owls matched up against the larger Raiders well despite the size disadvantage. The speed factor leaned in the advantage of Abundant Life, making it a battle of tempo in the second half. Riverview brought play nearly to a halt on a couple of occasions in the third quarter. The Raiders took their time to set up the offensive game and catch their breath after chasing the fast-paced offensive attack of the Owls. Riverview took one of its largest leads of the game at 37-32 heading into the final quarter, but it would not last long. Selby scored two of his eight points at the start of the fourth quarter to cut it to three, and the Owls got the ball back by forcing a five-second call against Hall on the inbounds. Ben Jones got the ball and momentum back for the Raiders with a steal and layup to put the lead back at five, but Fowler answered right back for the Owls with a jumper.

Woolverton cut the lead to one with his first goal since the opening period with 3:58 left in the game. His jumper made it 41-40, but a goal from Jones and a pair of free throws from Bo Banks quickly put the Raiders back out by five. The Raiders would hit 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch, keeping the Owls in catch-up mode the rest of the way. A late three-point attempt from Cheney that would have cut the interval to two points fell just short with seven seconds left, and Jones came up with his only rebound of the game to secure the win for Riverview.

Thatcher Cooperwood led the Raiders in scoring with 15 points. Hall finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, and Joe Overstreet added 10 points. For Abundant Life, Cheney led all scorers with 16 points. Woolverton and Fowler added nine points each for the Owls, and Selby added eight points and six rebounds. The win put Riverview’s record at 8-4 overall and 1-0 in conference. Despite getting into early foul trouble, Lady Raiders senior Kori Meachum helped Riverview launch out to a double-digit lead early in the girls’ contest. Meachum hit four-straight shots in the first three minutes of the game, including a three pointer at the 4:58 mark that put Riverview up by 10, 13-3. Meachum sat out a majority of the first half after picking up two quick fouls. Jasmine James took up Meachum’s slack and then some, pounding the ball inside for 10 points from the 3:01 mark of the first to the six-minute mark of the second quarter.

The score was 68-38 heading into the fourth quarter, but Abundant Life made up almost half of the deficit in the final frame while shutting out the Riverview JVs. “It was tougher than what it looked like,” Lady Raiders coach Russell Stupendous said. “They have a couple of really good players. We got into early foul trouble, and I was pretty worried. We had a couple of girls step up and hit some big shots for us, so that was good for us. They push it pretty fast, so we had to work hard to contain them.”

Meachum led all scorers in the game with 21 points for Riverview. James added 19 points for the Lady Raiders. Sierra Durham led Abundant Life with 20 points, and sophomore Hannah Pastor had 18 points, including 10 of 13 from the free throw line. Lady Owls senior Amanda Reynolds led all rebounders with seven boards. The win gives Riverview a record of 11-5 overall and 1-0 in conference. The Lady Owls’ record also stands at 11-5 and 0-1 in 2-3A. Abundant Life played at Pangburn last night after Leader deadlines.