A 30-point loss never crossed the mind of Riverside coach Brian Strickland on Friday but that’s what his Pirates suffered against Green Hope in an 81-51 blowout in the semifinals of the South Granville Holiday Invitational.
Strickland said he felt good about his team after its opening round 62-59 win over Newport Beach (Calif.) Newport Harbor on Wednesday. But after the first quarter against Green Hope, the Pirates found themselves overwhelmed by the top team out of the Southwest Wake 4-A. It was the first matchup for Riverside against their future conference mate as they’ll be in the same league next year as a result of realignment.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us,” Strickland said. “What Green Hope’s strengths were, and there were a lot of them, they exploited them. We didn’t answer the game when they came out strong in the second half.”
Riverside (7-4) matched Green Hope (11-2) shot-for-shot in the first quarter. Both teams hit six of their first eight shots and ended tied at 17-17 after the first eight minutes. Isaiah Reddish had 10 of his 20 points in the first quarter for Riverside. It almost was a scoring battle between Reddish and Green Hope’s Ryan Shaffer, who also scored 10 in the opening quarter and finished with 16.
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But in the second quarter, Riverside cooled off and Green Hope didn’t. The Falcons sliced up Riverside’s defense, too. The Pirates fell behind 36-25 at the intermission but Strickland said he didn’t feel like his team was out of it at that point.
Coming out of the locker room, though, Green Hope quickly put the game out of reach as senior guard Alex Clinkscales hit four quick baskets, including three 3-pointers. He scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half for the Falcons.
“We matched their intensity for most of the first half and they raised their level in the second half and we didn’t,” Strickland said. “We tried a couple of things defensively but they made the right plays out of the traps and got the ball to open man and it just happened to be him [Clinkscales] most of the time.”
Green Hope’s leading scorer was Will Harkins, who finished with 20 points, after only recording a bucket in the first quarter. Harkins did most of his damage in the third and fourth quarters as Green Hope’s lead surged from 11 to 24. The Falcons took a 61-37 advantage into the final quarter and they outscored Riverside 20-14 in the final minutes.
Riverside hit five 3s in the game but four of them were in the second half when the Pirates were well behind. Green Hope hit seven from behind the arc, including four from Clinkscales. A.J.Davis had three for the Pirates as he finished with 11 points and was the only other Riverside player in double figures.
Riverside will wrap up its run in tournament today at 4:30 p.m.
“We’re going to focus on correcting our mistakes from tonight the next game is a new game and we’ve got a new opponent,” Strickland said. “We’ve got to move on from this pretty quickly.”
Green Hope 81, Riverside 51
RIVERSIDE — Christian Johnson 6, Kenny Massey 4, Isaiah Reddish 20, A.J. Davis 11, Kuron Williams 2, Andrew Freeman 8.
GREEN HOPE — Alex Clinkscales 18, Conner Sutton 2, P.J. Fenton 11, Will Harkins 20, Ryan Shaffer 16, Chuck Hills 8, Connor Munz 2, Jordan Bates-Williams 2, Josh McVeigh 2.
3-Point goals—Riverside 5 (Davis 3, Freeman 2). Green Hope 7 (Clinkscales 4, Fenton 1, Shaffer 2).
Records—Riverside 7-4. Green Hope 11-2