Finding themselves down 40-39 headed into the fourth quarter to a hot-shooting Ridgemont team, Riverside’s sticky, hand-waving zone finally got it in gear in the final period, erupting for 22 points in the last frame while holding the visiting Golden Gophers to just six points in gaining a 61-46 Northwest Central Conference win Jan 22.
The win over the Gophers puts the Pirates over .500 in conference play with a 3-2 record with two league games remaining on their schedule. Lima Perry sits atop the standings with a perfect 5-0 league record as the Commodores are 13-2 on the year and have outscored their opponents by 350 points in 15 games.
The NWCC bottleneck is for second place as four teams – Riverside, Temple Christian, Upper Scioto Valley and Waynesfield-Goshen – all currently sport 3-2 conference marks. Riverside has two more league games, at Hardin Northern Jan. 29 and at Upper Scioto Valley Feb. 5. Wins in both those games would put Riverside in the shotgun seat for second place, barring a complete meltdown by the Commodores.
Landon Kelsey was his usual competent self in the Ridgemont game as he went 5-for-12 from the floor and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc to finish with 21 points and six rebounds. Jesse Kean scored 13 points and grabbed seven boards for head coach Dean Sanford and Shane Crawford corralled four offensive rebounds.
Trevor Stover scored 14 points to lead the Gophers, while Corey Eversole and Cole Weyant had 14 and 10 points, respectively, in the loss.
The following night, Riverside boarded the bus to travel to play state-ranked Southeastern in a non-league game and got smothered by the Trojans, 50-30. Kelsey scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Kean also had nine points in the loss. The Pirates attempted only three free throws in the game and missed all ten of their three point shots.
Riverside now stands at 6-8 on the year.
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.