Riverside ready for regionalsPublished 7:23pm Monday, March 4, 2013
Most teams would be ecstatic to be one of only eight 1-A teams in the state still playing basketball, however, the Knights are not like most teams.
Tonight, No. 1 Riverside (29-1) will resume its playoff run against No. 2 River Mill Academy (26-3) in the East Regional semifinal round of the playoffs inside the Crown Arena in Fayetteville, and while it may be a three-plus hour drive from Williamston, the Knights know this is a business trip not a vacation.
“I think everybody is at a good place. They’re not just happy with getting to regionals they want to compete and put on a good show for everybody,” Riverside coach Kirby Maness said. “We seem to be hitting our stride at the right time.”
The Knights, who won a share of the Four Rivers Conference crown before winning the conference tournament, are the 10th ranked team in the state according to MaxPreps.com, but are in for their toughest matchup of the season so far as they clash with a River Mill team that went 16-0 in the Carolina 12 conference and is the No. 2 ranked team in the state.
“They’re not a very tall team but they have a girl (Lenaira Ruffin) who has over 1,500 career points and 1,500 rebounds and is going to Elon. They also have a girl in Maria Crawford who is going to Pfeiffer,” Maness said. “Everybody on their team can take the ball up the court and everybody can step out and shoot a three.”
Tonight’s battle pits two teams against each other that both feature guard-heavy rosters and like to get up and down the court in transition.
Riverside has a roster full of diverse guards and is led by point guard Jalyn Brown, who notched her 1,000th career point earlier this season.
With their aggressive press, the Knights excel in track meets and will look to grind down a River Mill team that’s bench is only seven players deep.
Though thin, the Jags can be deadly from three-point range and if Riverside wants to advance to the next round of the playoffs it must stop the long ball.
“We’re going to have to get out and get a hand in their face,” Maness said. “I want them to have to become drivers … They’re a really good shooting team so we’re going to have to make them drive to the hoop. And when they do shoot the ball we’re going to have to box out and make sure we get the rebounds.”