Leader Blues

Friday, February 16, 2007

SPORTS >>Academy upsets Riverview

IN SHORT: The Wildcats upset Riverview Thursday night to make the district finals.

Leader sports writer

Riverview went undefeated through the conference regular season, and was the favorites to win the district tournament held at its own place.

Harding Academy took the league champs to overtime on the same floor in the last meeting between the two teams, and knew it could beat the favored Raiders. The Wildcats proved it Thursday night with an exciting 70-61 win in Thursday night’s semifinals.

A half-court shot from Alex Beene at the halftime buzzer did more than just tie the game at 31-31; it seemed to stop Riverview’s effortless momentum that it enjoyed through most of the first half. The Wildcats came out on fire in the second half, with Beene and fellow senior guard Luke Tribble scoring from nearly every pocket on the floor.

“Those two guys both had a terrific game tonight,” Harding Academy coach Rick Beene said. “I have had a lot of good guards over the years, but those two could be the best I’ve seen.” Tribble and Alex Beene combined for 28 of the Wildcats’ 39 second half points. The biggest key down the stretch would be solid free throw shooting by Harding Academy. The Wildcats hit 13 of 14 attempts in the final three minutes, staying at least three scores ahead of the Raiders until the final buzzer.

Although both teams had their bright and dark spots, the biggest inconsistency in the game was on the hands of the officiating crew. A number of questionable calls in the first half prevented the Wildcats from building any true momentum. A technical foul on Rick Beene at the 2:32 mark of the first after asking for an explanation of a call allowed Riverview senior Tony Hall to tie the game from the foul line at 12-12.

The second half would be Riverview’s turn on the wrong end of the whistle. The Raiders received a number of player-control fouls during times when the HA defenders did not appear to be even close to being set. The Riverview crowd voiced their displeasure on a number of occasions, as did Raiders coach Danny Starkey at the 4:52 mark of the third quarter when a Joe Overstreet basket that would have cut the Wildcats’ lead to two points was disallowed.

Despite the bewildered refs, the game was closely contested through the final minutes of the game. Riverview junior Dominique Baker had a chance to tie the game for the Raiders with 40 seconds left, but his three-point attempt bounced off the cylinder and into the waiting hands of HA’s Alex Beene. Beene was fouled after the rebound, and hit both ends of his one-and-one attempt.

Beene helped the Wildcats out to a 5-0 lead at the start of the game with a three and a basket in the first 48 seconds. James Kee added to that lead with an inside basket before Hall finally answered for the Raiders. Overstreet cut the lead to two when he was fouled by B.J. Roller while attempting a three-point shot. Overstreet nailed all three charity shots to make it 7-5 HA with 5:39 left in the first quarter.

The Raiders fought through the entire second quarter until Baker hit a perfect three pointer with three seconds left until the intermission that put the Raiders up 31-28. The shot appeared to have given Riverview the momentum for the start of the second half, but Alex Beene’s hurl from 45 feet out fell through the net as the buzzer sounded to dead lock the game at 31.
Beene went on to lead all scorers in the game with 28 points. Tribble added 16 points for the Wildcats. For Riverview, Tony Hall led with 16 points. Thatcher Cooperwood added 11 points, and Overstreet had 10 points for the Raiders.

Harding Academy played Rose Bud in last night’s district finals. Look for details of that game in the Saturday edition of The Leader.