You expect to see some sloppy play during a team’s season opener. That’s a given.
The occasional miscommunication while executing the offense. A breakdown on defense. Some lazy fouls.
Yes, the River Ridge boys basketball team experienced all of that — for about the opening three minutes of play.
Then the Hawks kicked things into high gear, and it was difficult to determine which was more impressive: the avalanche of 3s they hit or their ability to turn defensive stops into transition points.
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Issiah Scott scored 16 points, Jaden White drained five 3-pointers and River Ridge ran roughshod over visiting Shelton, 78-28, in a nonleague clash on Tuesday.
“This a good group to coach. We have Kobe Key and LaBrandon Price, who were both all-league back from last year. They’ve been in the program for a long time. So, we have a lot of experience out there,” said River Ridge coach John Barbee. “We’re just 12 practices in and it’s early on, but we’re very excited for this year.”
The Hawks used a 24-1 run in the first half to build a 31-point lead at the intermission. If the game wasn’t already over by that point, it certainly was after River Ridge opened up the second half on a 15-0 run.
“We’ve had lots of energy at practices. We go about eight or nine deep,” Barbee said. “We’ve had a tough time scoring against each other at practice.”
That wasn’t the case against the over-matched Highclimbers. White finished with 15 points, Tre Dorfner scored 13 and Mac Armstrong added 10 for the Hawks, who drained 10 3-pointers. White accounted for half of them.
“We finished last year really strong,” said Barbee, who guided River Ridge to 22 victories and a third-place finish at the Class 2A state tournament last season. “We’re athletic. We’re strong. We’re experienced. We have five seniors and five juniors who have all been there before. We have 70 percent of our offense back and we play to our strengths, which is speed in the open court.”
Scott scored 14 points and Dorfner chipped in 11 to help the Hawks to a commanding 46-15 lead at the break.
Surprisingly, the Highclimbers actually held a 4-2 advantage shortly into the contest as River Ridge opened the game by missing its first six shots from the field.
“That first three minutes were hard for us,” Barbee said. “I think we were taking good shots. They just weren’t falling.”
That changed with Scott hitting a pair of 3s during the early stages of a 17-0 run for the Hawks in the first half.
The defensive side wasn’t too shabby either, as River Ridge held Shelton without a field goal for nearly 17 minutes of the game. The drought stretched from midway through the first quarter and didn’t end until there were three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
White failed to slip into the same offensive slump. He hit four 3-pointers during the first six minutes of the second half, helping the Hawks take a commanding 70-26 lead into the final frame.
“It’s just a great time to be a Hawk,” Barbee said. “They are coming off a great football season. Kobe was the quarterback on the (football) team and Kelle Sanders was an all-league player for them. They’ve just carried that excitement over to the basketball season.”