Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SPORTS>>Raiders escape Academy

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Riverview Lady Raiders pulled off their biggest win of the season, beating Harding Academy 55-39 to move into a second-place tie with the Lady Wildcats in the 3A-2 Conference standings. The win avenged an earlier loss to Academy, and leaves both teams 8-2 in conference play and a game behind Pangburn for first place. The Riverview boys also won to remain undefeated in league play at 10-0 with a 58-46 come-from-behind win. The girls game was close until the fourth quarter, when Riverview outscored Academy 18-4 to turn a 37-35 lead into the 16-point win.

Friday’s game started much the same way as the first meeting back in December. Academy jumped out to an early lead, and took a 14-11 advantage into the second period. That’s about where the similarities ended. Instead of Academy pushing its lead into double digits in the second quarter, Riverview kept it close, and the game went into halftime tied at 25-25. After a nip-and-tuck third quarter, the Lady Raiders exploded in the final frame to seal the victory.

Harding Academy coach Rusty Garner offered no excuses, he simply praised Riverview. “In the fourth quarter, Riverview looked like we were all afraid they could look.” Garner said. “At the same time, we looked about as bad as we were afraid we could look. But I give most of the credit for that to Riverview. They were executing extremely well. They made the extra passes. They just turned it up a notch that we didn’t have that night in the fourth quarter.”

.Riverview coach Russell Stumpenhous was as complimentary as Garner, but was pleased with the effort he got from his team. “I don’t know if we had a notch above them as much as we just had a different notch,” Stumpenhous said. “They’ve got a lot of size and shoot well, so we have to try to play the game out on the court. We were able to do that well in that last quarter. They gave a great effort and they focused well on executing at the same time. I was pleased with it.”

Courtney Webster led the way for the Lady Raiders, scoring a season-high 18 points. Jasmine James added 12 and Kori Meachum 11 for Riverview. Liz Ashley led Academy with 17 points. The Raiders had to climb back from a 10-point deficit in the second quarter to make a game of it, and they too pulled away in the fourth to secure the win.

Academy led led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter and led 24-15 with about three minutes left in the half when Riverview went on a 9-0 run to tie it at halftime. The league’s two leading scorers, Riverview’s Tony Hall and Harding Academy’s Alex Beene, were each held in check fairly well, but the Raiders got a lift from point guard Bo Banks, who pitched in 15 points to lead the team. “Tony got into foul trouble and had to sit down a lot,” Riverview coach Danny Starkey said. “That wasn’t the main problem though, we just didn’t play very well, especially early. We played like were tired or something.”

Starkey lamented his team’s slow starts in the last two games, but is relieved his team still found a way to win. “I’ll take it without any doubt, but just kind of don’t like it much,” Starkey said. “I’m not saying we have to beat everybody by 20. I’d just like to see us start better and not put ourselves in a situation where we have to dig out of a hole.” Not everyone started slowly for Riverview. Point guard Bo Banks scored eight of the Raider’s 10 points in the opening frame.

With Hall on the bench late, Dominique Baker scored seven of his nine in the fourth period. “We’re not playing like I’d like for us to, but people are stepping up when we need them to,” Starkey said. “That’s something we need for the time being. Hopefully we’ll get past this little stumble here and start getting back to playing really well in time for the playoffs.” The Riverview defense held Beene to 17 points, which is ok considering his 25-point average.

“I thought we did ok,” Starkey said. “He just has a way of scoring. He didn’t get anything easy, He hits some shots that just make you shake your head.” Senior guard Luke Tribble scored 14 for Academy. Hall followed Banks’ lead with 14 points for Riverview. Ben Jones came off the bench to score six points on six of six foul shooting. The Raiders, 18-4 overall, made 18 of 21 free throws in the game.

The loss dropped Academy to 8-9 and 5-5. The Raiders went to Brinkley last night and will host Rose Bud Friday.
Academy hosted Abundant Life last night and will host Brinkley Friday.