PORT BYRON— A fierce rivalry and two of the area's best boys basketball playersmade for a crazy night at Riverdale High School on Friday.|
First, it was Riverdale's Jared Richmond blowing up with 20 points in thesecond quarter and the Rams taking a four-point lead into halftime.
Erie's Jacob Johnston countered with 12 points in the third quarter that put Erie in theposition to take a six-point lead of their own in the final frame.
Richmond had six more of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter, though, and withJohnston leaving the game with a back injury with three minutes to go, Riverdale held offthe Cardinals for a 63-60 Three Rivers Conference victory.
"He's in a groove," said Riverdale coach Jason Hendrix of Richmond with a big smile onhis face. "Look at his last couple of games, he's hot. He's confident and you can tell bythe rhythm of his shot. He has to do that. He's our leader and our leading scorer."
"It feels nice," said a modest Richmond of his performance of late, especially in thesecond quarter during which he knocked down 4-of-6 from long range. "My teammates weregetting me open looks and they trust in me to make shots. This is when we want to startplaying our best."
Riverdale (12-10, 7-3 TRAC-9) didn't start very well and trailed 12-9 after the first eightminutes, but Richmond's huge second quarter got the ball rolling the Rams way.
Erie's Johnston had nine of his team-high 29 points in the second quarter and fellowsenior Rhett Stover scored half of his 10 points to keep the Cardinals close, as they trailedjust 35-31 at halftime.
"Jacob (Johnston) was having one of those nights and we were excited about the positionwe were in, but we just didn't finish it," said Erie coach Ryan Winckler, whose Cardinals fall to 15-10and 6-4 in the TRAC-9. "I am proud of our team. When Jacob goes out, we don't have asmany options. But Connor (Saad) hit some big shots for us and our guys have done a greatjob of fighting all year, no matter what."
"One guy goes down and another one steps up, I just happened to be that guy tonight,"said Saad, who scored seven of his 10 points in the fourth. "At the end of the day, we area team unit."
Erie held a 52-46 lead with six minutes to go, but had that margin erased quickly as Riverdale seniorMitchell Sand (10 points, three steals) canned a big 3-ball and Richmond went on anotherscoring spurt with six points in two minutes that gave Riverdale a 57-56 lead with twominutes to go.
Saad answered with a huge 3-pointer that put the Cardinals back in the lead. ButRiverdale quickly tied it back up and it was a Bart Johnson (eight points, game-high sixassists) jumper with just under a minute to play that put the Rams up for good.
Said Richmond, "We have a lot of guys stepping up right now and we know what wehave to do at the end of the game."
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