Vikes split with Knights
WILLIAMSTON — Every team knows the key to stopping Riverside is to slow down 6-8 center Marcus Freeman, however, very few teams have been able to do it this season. On Friday, Plymouth found a way as it held the reigning WDN Player of the Year to 12 points in its 60-40 victory over the Knights.
With first place in the Four Rivers Conference on the line, the Vikings (6-3, 4-0) smothered the Riverside (9-4, 3-1) big man on defense and were able to attack on him offense, which eventually led to the senior center fouling out with a little under three minutes left in the game with the contest already decided.
“We had decided that we weren’t going to allow him to do what he wanted to do,” Plymouth coach Marvin Davenport said of Freeman. “He runs the floor well and I told our big men that we had to run the floor and get back on defense. We couldn’t let him run the floor all by himself because he’s good at getting easy baskets.”
Easy baskets were few and far between for any of the Knights as they got behind 16-5 after the first quarter, outscored the Vikings 31-26 in the middle quarters but struggled again in the final stanza allowing Plymouth to close out the game on a 16-4 run.
“They just came out and jumped all over us and slapped us in the face,” Riverside coach Bobby Williams said. “We weren’t ready to go. I don’t know why. We just have a habit of starting slow.”
Vikings guard Carl McCray got off to a slow start as well, scoring only three points in the first half, but ended the game on fire tallying 17 second-half points to finish with a game-high 20.
“He’s probably the most athletic guard in our league,” Williams said. “He’s just a super, super ballplayer. We tried two or three guys on him … but we just didn’t have anybody step up and guard him tonight.”
Helping put up points for Plymouth was Davonte Spruill who scored 11 and Deandrea Phelps who netted 10.
The Knights rallied to take a 26-24 lead late in the second quarter, but Phelps banked in a three at the buzzer to put his team up 27-26. Plymouth would hold that lead for the rest of the game.
Riverside 46, Plymouth 38
A big defensive effort from Riverside allowed the Knights to maintain their perfect Four Rivers Conference record on Friday as they topped Plymouth 46-38.
Sophomore point guard Jalyn Brown tallied 13 points and four steals while junior transfer Maria Gaddy tallied nine points and four steals and junior guard Jo’Neka Brown added five points and a team-high six thefts to help the Knights up their record to 8-1(4-0).
“It was huge,” Riverside coach Hughes Barber said of the win. “We knew coming in that Plymouth was going to be tough and athletic … and I thought we did a good job rebounding and playing defense in the first half.”
After the first eight minutes of play Riverside took a slim 12-8 lead into the second quarter where they were able to sail away from the Vikings with a 17-7 run that allowed the Knights to head into halftime with a 29-15 advantage.
With star center Kristy Gibson in foul trouble, Plymouth struggled to get in a rhythm on offense in the early portion of the game.
“She got two fouls early and was just never able to get into it offensively,” Plymouth’s first-year coach Lamont Gilliam said.
Gibson finished the contest with only two points as the Vikings were led by freshman forward Tradesia Simpson who had 10 points while Desire Chesson added seven.
“The biggest difference in tonight’s game was just that we got out-hustled a little bit. They beat us down the court in transition,” Gilliam said.
The Vikings picked up their effort in the second half outscoring Riverside 23-17 but it was not enough to make up the difference from the slow start.
“I just like that we didn’t quit,” Gilliam said. “We got down early but we still fought. It was just not a good night for us.”
Plymouth 8 7 14 9 38
Riverside 12 17 8 9 – 46
Gibson 2, Smallwood 5, Cooper 3, Dixon 7, Chesson 7, Tradesia Simpson 10, Barrow 1.
Jalyn Brown 13, Burnett 2, Brown 5, Wynn 3, Little 3, Armstrong 4, Wilson 1, Griffin 2, Whitley 2.
Plymouth 16 11 17 16 – 60
Riverside 5 21 10 4 – 40
Pitt 4, Carl McCray 20, Davonte Spruill 11, Adrian 5, Deandra Phelps 10, Sheppard 2, Leseene 3.
Darrell Freeman 12, Bethea 7, Beach 5, Hardison 5, Marcus Freeman 12, Moore 2, Norfleet 2.