Riverside used tough pressure defense and sharp shooting to win its first PAC-6 Conference title since 2010 in a hard-fought 61-56 win over Northern Wednesday night. The victory gives the Pirates a regular season sweep over the Knights.
In the girls game, Riverside held off a late rally by Northern to take a 48-43 win. The victory keeps the Lady Pirates in second place behind Hillside with one game left in the regular season.
Boys take control in fourth
Leading by just two points heading into the final period, seniors Jareel Stewart and Anthony Peak helped Riverside charge to a 10-point lead with four minutes left. Both scored eight points apiece in the quarter.
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But the Knights had one more rally left.
Senior forward Timothy Bell scored four of Northern’s next five points to pull the Knights to within five. Bell hit 16 for the game, 10 in the final period.
Peak (18 points) stopped the bleeding with a turnaround jumper to make it a seven-point lead with three minutes remaining, and the Knights got no closer than five.
“This is just a great experience,” Riverside senior Marcus Willoughby said. “We believe in our team, and we never gave up. We knew we could do it.”
Trailing by as many as seven points in the second period, the Pirates (17-6, 9-2) went on a scoring barrage. Peak and junior Andrew Freeman helped Riverside outscore the Knights (16-6, 8-3) 17-8 to take a 26-22 halftime lead. Freeman had 11 points in the half.
Riverside closes out the regular season Friday at East Chapel Hill.
“I’m going to let the guys enjoy this one, but we’ve still got a big one Friday night,” Pirates coach Brian Strickland said. “We still have to take care of business.”
Council has another big night
In the girls game, Riverside had no answer for Northern senior Rhianna Council, who scored 33 of her team’s 43 points. But the Lady Pirates had more weapons, and their defense in the second and third periods proved the difference.
With the score tied at 9 after the first quarter, Riverside (17-5, 9-2) outscored Northern (9-13, 5-6) 25 to 15 over the next two quarters for a 10-point lead heading into the final period.
After being held to four points in the third, Council went hog wild in the fourth, scoring 15 points and pulling the Lady Knights to within two points with 2:04 left.
But Riverside guard Aijah Perry and forward Ashauntee Nelson used their quickness to outhustle Northern for second-chance baskets. The duo scored back-to-back baskets while holding Northern to just one point in the final two minutes for the win.
Nelson led the Lady Pirates with 10 points, eight rebounds and a block.