Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

SPORTS>>Raiders top Dogs for No. 1 seed

ROSE BUD – The Riverview Raiders achieved another school first Saturday by winning the Class 3A Region 2 tournament. The 61-51 victory over Conway-St. Joseph marked the first back-to-back regional titles since the school’s inception 12 years ago.

The Raiders jumped out to a quick lead and held off a few Bulldog rallies in the second half to seal the title and take a No. 1 seed into the Class 3A state tournament that began yesterday in Harrison.

St. Joseph’s most serious threat came in the midst of a rally that had cut Riverview’s biggest lead of 14 points down to eight midway through the fourth quarter. With 2:52 left in the game, Raider leading scorer Tony Hall fouled out with 24 points, sending St. Joseph’s Daniel Antione to the line for a pair of free throws.

The Bulldog point guard nailed both shots, making it 48-42 and leaving Riverview without its best scorer the rest of the way.
Raider coach Danny Starkey called timeout and told his players to spread the floor and don’t shoot unless a layup presents itself.

After playing keep away for 31 seconds, Raider guard Dominique Baker spotted teammate Thatcher Cooperwood cutting baseline, unguarded to the rim, and sent a one-handed, no-look bounce pass right on target for a huge basket that made it 50-42 and effectively stole the momentum.

“We knew we had to step up with our captain on the bench,” Baker said of Hall fouling out. “We weren’t looking for a shot, but I noticed him and just got him the ball.”

Cooperwood reiterated that it wasn’t a designed play. “I just saw that no one was around the basket and cut to it,” Cooperwood said. “We knew we could make the plays and we did.”The Raiders forced a turnover after Cooperwood’s bucket, and Ben Jones was fouled and sent to the line with 2:20 left in the game.

Jones nailed both free throws for a 52-42 Riverview lead. All St Joseph’s could do was score, foul, and hope the Raiders missed some free throws. But Riverview refused to play along, hitting nine of 12 foul shots in the final two minutes to seal the win.

“This was a good win for us,” Riverview coach Danny Starkey said. “Stepping up and making big plays when they had all the momentum, that’s big and that’s something you look for. They made a few runs at us throughout the game, but we always came back with an answer and took the momentum and critical times. Momentum is so important.”

The Raiders started the game with a quick run to take an 8-2 lead, but the Bulldogs’ inside game of Hethscott and Luke and Josh Kordsmeier kept it close. Riverview led 16-12 after one quarter, but the Raiders started the second period with pressure.
Riverview noticed that St. Joseph’s struggled against the press in the first round when Abundant Life rallied from 23 points down to within four. They were planning to press early, and it came in the second quarter.

The pressure gave the Raiders a 23-12 lead with 5:19 left in the half, but St Jospeh regrouped.A few Riverview misses were followed by Luke Kordsmeier buckets the 11-point lead was down to 25-19 with a minute left in the half. That’s when the first critical momentum theft took place.

The Raiders closed the half with five straight points, including a Baker three at the buzzer to send Riverview into intermission with a 30-19 advantage. St. Joseph’s scrapped and clawed to get back into the game in the third quarter. Heathscott scored 11 of the Bulldogs’ 12 points in the frame and led an 8-2 run that pulled his team back to within 38-31 with 30 seconds left in the quarter.

With 13 seconds left, Hall penetrated and pulled up for a mid-range jumper. Baker then picked Antoine’s pocket and went the other way for a layup at the buzzer that again made it an 11-point margin at 42-31. Baker would finish the game with 14 points, five assists and three steals.

Heathscott led all scorers with 26 points. The Raiders moved onto Tuesday’s first-round game in state against Lamar with a 26-5 record.