Riverside’s girls and boys teams found the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state playoffs easier to digest than in last week’s PAC-6 Tournament.
The Pirates swept a doubleheader played Tuesday night at home to advance to the second round. Both teams had entered the playoffs coming off losses on their home court in the conference tournament.
The Riverside girls defeated South Central of Winterville 50-27 and the boys routed Overhills of Harnett County in the nightcap 79-56.
The 14th-seeded Riverside’s girls (21-6) were coming off a strong performance the PAC-6 final despite the loss to Hillside, the 4A’s No. 1 seeded team that had routed the Pirates in the regular season.
But the No. 7-seeded Riverside boys (19-8) needed to bounce back from having suffered back-to-back upset losses at home in the regular-season finale to East Chapel Hill and Cardinal Gibbons in the PAC-6 semifinals.
Riverside junior Isaiah Reddish says the Pirates returned to the team basketball style that led them to sharing the regular-season title with tournament champion Northern. Four players hit doubles figures against Overhills.
Reddish scored 15, Jareel Stewart 13, Justin Johnson 11 and A.J. Davis 10.
“I think we got a little selfish,” Reddish said of the two-game skid. “The big key was we worked hard and threw that out the window. We got back to playing together.”
Overhills only trailed 16-14 after the first period and outscored Riverside 19-15 in the third period. But the Pirates responded with a 23-point second quarter for a 39-22 halftime lead and 25-point fourth period for the 23-point winning margin.
“We worked hard to get a win in the playoffs,” Reddish said. “Our mindset was we had to bounce back.”
Latrell Lloyd led Overhills (15-10) with 15 points.
The Pirates felt ready for the state tournament after forcing Hillside to come from behind in the second half to beat them last week.
“The championship game really helped us prepare for the state playoffs,” said senior guard Zaria Rodgers. “I was happy with that way we brought intensity to start the game and how we finished off the game in the second half.”
Rodgers led the balanced scoring with 14 points. O’Shea Hatley added 12, Ariel Wilson nine and Aminata Johnson eight with eight rebounds and two blocked shots. The Pirates won despite playing without starter Ashauntee Nelson, who was ill and unable to attend the game.
Riverside jumped out to a 16-4 lead before a second-half lull forced them to settle for a 23-11 halftime lead. Rodgers scored six of Riverside’s seven points.
But the Pirates put the game out of reach in the third quarter. Rodgers, hitting jumpers and driving the lane or finishing fast breaks, added six more for 15-6 advantage and 38-17 lead entering the final period.
South Central (14-12), the No. 19-seeded team, was led by Mannessah Fox and Brooke Bostic with eight points each.