After starting the season with three wins, the Riverside boys basketball team has taken a step backward, losing its last three to drop to an even .500 for the season. Following a loss to Indian Lake last week, the Pirates dropped a pair of games over the weekend of Dec. 18 and 19, losing first to Lima Perry, 74-47, in a Northwest Central Conference game, then dropping a non-league match to Emmanuel Christian Academy, 55-43, the following night.
Most of Riverside’s woes in the Perry game on Friday came from the Commodores’ one-two punch of Jacoby Lane-Harvey and Plummie Gardner, who combined to score 53 of Perry’s 74 points. Lane-Harvey was 7-of-9 from the floor, hit one of his two three-point attempts, and was a perfect 13-for-13 from the line, closing with 30 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and six steals. Adding to Riverside’s troubles was Gardner’s five three-pointers and 23 points and a frenzied defense that forced the Pirates into 27 turnovers.
The Commodores held a slim 16-15 lead after one quarter, but went on a 38-20 run over the next two quarters to put the game away. The Pirates (3-3 overall, 1-1 in the NWCC) got off 50 shots in the game, but hit only 18 for 36 percent. They also allowed the Commodores to grab 22 defensive rebounds, which Lane-Harvey and Gardner were happy to turn into points at the other end.
Landon Kelsey scored 15 points in the loss to Perry, while Jesse Kean had nine.
Things started out much better for the Pirates the following night against Emmanuel Christian Academy as they grabbed a 12-8 lead after the first quarter, but it was all but ECA after that. The Lions (3-1 overall) turned up the defensive heat with a press and man defense that forced 22 Pirates turnovers, outscoring the hosts 47-31 over the last three periods. The Pirates were again plagued by shooting woes, connecting on just 36 percent of their shots from the floor, including going just 1-for-9 from three-point land.
Three Pirates made it into double-digits in scoring against the Lions, with Kelsey leading the way with 13 points. Trey Helmlinger had an even dozen and Kean had 11 points and the Pirates’ only three-pointer of the game.
Riverside will not have to play again until 2016, when the Pirates travel to Champaign County to take on the Triad Cardinals in a non-league match-up Tuesday, Jan. 5.
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.