With 10 of its 11 players just seven practices removed from a postseason football run, the River Ridge High School boys basketball team reined in some overly physical play to hold off visiting Stadium, 78-75, Friday night.
The Hawks, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament, but returning just a single starter, led by as many as 12 points in the second half, going up 60-48 in the final minute of the third quarter.
But River Ridge put the Tigers in the bonus early in the fourth quarter and 17 free throws in the second half, along with some effective full-court pressure, fueled a Stadium rally.
“Our length and our size are the strength of our team,” River Ridge coach John Barbee said. “But we got a little too aggressive tonight and had a lot of reaching fouls. We need to work at keeping our gaps on defense.”
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Fouls deprived the Hawks of its leading scorer, Josh Kennedy, who left with 22 points when he picked up his fifth foul three minutes before the end of the game. Kelle Sanders added 18 and Jordan Skipper-Brown chipped in 16.
Four players reached double figures for the Tigers. Marcel Ferguson led with 18 points, while Zakhari Smith had 15, Jacee Hughes 14 and Blake Wilcox 14.
Stadium took a 19-12 lead after one quarter, but a 12-2 Hawks run put River Ridge ahead to stay at 24-21 thanks to baskets by Kennedy and Sanders.
A 15-5 run by Stadium in the second half cut the River Ridge lead to two points, 65-63, with five minutes to go. The Hawks pushed their edge back to six before a pair of free throws and a driving layup by sophomore guard Davion Gaines again brought Stadium to within two.
Trey Dorfner then hit the biggest shot of the night for River Ridge, a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 75-70. That gave the Hawks a cushion big enough to survive Stadium briefly cutting their lead to one, before a post move by Sanders ended the suspense. Dorfner’s shot was one of only two 3-pointers on the night for River Ridge.
“We were successful getting the ball inside,” Barbee said. “Hopefully we’ll start scoring more from the outside as the season goes along. Overall, we got what we wanted from this game — a win and a good piece of film to look at before our next game.”
S – Hughes 14, Gaines 8, Smith 15, Hills 4, Ferguson 18, Wilcox 14, Hartman 2.
RR – Page 2, Coleman 8, Dorfner 5, Skipper-Brown 16, Washington, Knox 7, Sanders 18, Kennedy 22, Arana, Valerio.