It’s great to be a KnightPublished 6:14pm Saturday, February 23, 2013
ROBERSONVILLE — When the final buzzer finally sounded it was drowned out by a thunderous celebration as Riverside fans erupted in euphoria while the players chanted, “It’s great to be a Knight.”
And on Friday it was.
Second-seeded Riverside blitzed rival and No. 1 seed Plymouth in the opening quarter and never looked back as it topped the Vikings 64-49 to win the Four Rivers Conference tournament title.
The two teams ended the regular season perched atop the Four Rivers Conference standings with matching 13-1 conference records as they split the regular season crown. The tourney essentially served as a tiebreaker for the teams in terms of playoff seeding and with the win Riverside locked up the No. 1 seed in the NCHSAA 1-A state playoffs.
The tourney title was another milestone for first-year coach Kirby Maness, who after the game took time to credit his predecessor.
“It’s like a great inheritance … I was just lucky to fall into this situation,” Maness said. “When (former coach) Hughes (Barber) left he left a heck-of-a team. They went 27-3 last season. There is a lot of talent here.”
Once again, Riverside executed its press to perfection as it leapt out to a 22-7 lead in the first quarter as star point guard Jalyn Brown tallied seven of her 14 points in the first eight minutes.
“We work on breaking the press every night in practice but when game time came we just weren’t in the right places,” Plymouth coach Lamont Gilliam said. “Offensively, we just couldn’t get anything going. I have to give credit to their pressure defense, we couldn’t get into our sets.”
Riverside’s opportunistic defense led to a balanced scoring attack as the team had four double-digit scores. Defensive specialist Jo’Neka Brown tallied a team-high 16 points, while D’asya Wilson added 14 and Dasia Moore scored 10.
Plymouth, who received a 12-point effort from Ebony Barrow, played even with the Knights in the second before outscoring them 16-12 in the third to head into the final quarter in striking distance with score at 45-34.
Once again, Riverside got defensive. Brown, the team’s stopper, ran the floor and scored six fourth-quarter point to keep the Vikings at bay and clinch the tourney title.
Riverside 22 11 12 19 — 64
Plymouth 7 11 16 15 — 49
Jalyn Brown 14, Jo’Neka Brown 16, Dasia Moore 10, D’asya Wilson 14, Rogers 2, Cooper 8.
Chesson 7, Ebony Barrow 15, Simpson 2, Jaymasia Dixon 10, Davis 3, Smallwood 9, Swain 1.