SPORTS >> Raiders on pace to victory
By JASON KING
Riverview’s key to victory was controlling the tempo, both fast and slow, against Harding Academy on Friday.
The Raiders beat the Wildcats 61-40 at Harris gym and stayed unbeaten in the 2-3A Conference.
The Raiders got off to a fast start, and once they had established that pace they slowed it down.
But after imposing a range of paces on the host Wildcats, and surviving a frantic Harding Academy press in the fourth quarter, the Raiders (14-4, 7-0) put it all together with perfect free-throw shooting down the stretch.
“It’s always a joy; a joy and a battle,” Raiders coach Russell Stumpenhous said of the cross-town Searcy rivalry. “We wanted to keep the pace in our favor. We got lucky and we hit some shots. We executed well in the first quarter. I thought we got the looks that we wanted, and we knocked them down.”
Riverview was shaky at the free-throw line to start the final period, going two of six in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. But when Harding Academy got to the double bonus and began to foul in an effort to control the clock during the final 3:09, the Raiders went 10 of 10.
The Raiders began on a more frantic note with 4:38 left in the first quarter, when junior post player D.J. Teague converted a basket and free throw to put Riverview up 7-3. Tyler Colvin made a three-pointer with 3:40 left in the quarter to give the Raiders a 10-9 lead after a brief Wildcat rally, and the Raiders never trailed again.
Jordan Perry gave the Raiders their first double-digit lead with a three-pointer with 56 seconds left in the first to make it 15-5. Perry hit a transition shot moments later with an assist from Teague to improve the lead to 17-5 before Will Francis cut Harding Academy’s deficit to 10 just before the end of the quarter.
The Raiders showed a completely different look to begin the second quarter. In fact, they showed virtually no look at all for the first 4:20, as guard Taylor Smith kept the ball at mid court most of that time watching the clock count down.
The Wildcats did not contest, and the Raiders burned over half the quarter before finding Teague inside for the first of his three dunks with 3:40 left until the half. That raised Riverview’s lead to 19-7, and gave Teague two of his game-leading 17 points.
“It was more for legs than anything else,” Stumpenhous said. “It wasn’t necessarily a planned thing to slow it down, but we saw they were pretty tight. We didn’t want to force a three. So we decided we would hold it out there and see if they would come get us. They didn’t, so we ran off a few minutes and got back into it.”
Teague used his 6-9 frame to his advantage against the smaller Wildcats, and inside help from reserve Rodney White gave Harding Academy even more to worry about at the low post.
The addition of 6-5 guard Smith roaming the perimeter and the lane made it nearly impossible for the Wildcats to focus on any one area of the court and opened the door for a balanced scoring night for Riverview. Smith finished with 16 points, Colvin scored 10, Jordan Perry scored nine and point-guard Keinan Lee scored seven.
“Last time when we played, they did a really good job of playing the inside,” Stumpenhous said. “And we tried to make that a factor tonight. We really wanted to get our big guys involved and try to utilize that advantage.”
Riverview, leading by 10 at the break, pulled away to start the second half. Perry scored on a back-door assist from Smith to start the half, followed by two free throws for Smith and a three-pointer by Colvin to make it 28-13 with 4:53 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats avoided being blown out with three-pointers from Lane Dailey and Francis before the end of the third to pull within 37-22.
The Wildcats tried to make up the difference in the fourth quarter with a full-court defensive attack, but the Raiders kept the ball in Smith’s hands for most of the final eight minutes. Smith went 4 of 4 at the free-throw line in the final minute.
“He played a great game,” Stumpenhous said. “He managed the court really well. He utilized his tools really well, and I felt like overall he managed a really good game.”
Post player Daniel Stevens led Harding Academy with 15 points while Francis finished with 14. The Wildcats are 5-2 in conference play.
The game was the first of two in a four-day stretch for the teams. At Riverview on Monday they made up their first 2-3A Conference game originally scheduled in December.