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Riverside cadets return to the court
Riverside Military Academy basketball coach Matt Bohan talks with his varsity player prior to Monday afternoon’s practice. It’s the first practice for the team after a two-week furlough for the holidays. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times
Riverside Military Academy boys basketball coach Matt Bohon is determined to make one thing clear: The school-mandated furlough is not an excuse, it’s simply an obstacle.

While most other teams in the state spent the two-week holiday break playing in tournaments or, at the very least, practicing, Riverside did not.

But the hiatus wasn’t by choice.

When Riverside (1-3) finished classes for the holiday break, the school shut down and cadets went home — for some that’s further than right up the street.

“I’ve got kids from London, Korea, from California, from Florida,” Bohon said. “So for their two weeks of Christmas vacation, they go home.

“A lot of these kids have places they can go in the Atlanta area, home with a teammate or home with a classmate, which they will do on a weekend. But Christmas they go home and see their families.”

As a result, no practice for two weeks and, because games weren’t scheduled during exams, Riverside hasn’t played a game since a 55-46 loss to East Jackson on Dec. 9.

“Most teams have played six or seven games, practiced nine or ten times, we’ve done nothing,” Bohon said. “I don’t complain and we don’t use it as an excuse, it’s just one of our obstacles that we have to overcome.”

They’ve got to do it in a short period of time. The Eagles play two Region 8-AA foes right off the bat: Banks County on Wednesday, Jefferson on Friday, then step out of region against North Cobb Christian on Saturday.

Combined, those three teams have played 16 games since the last time the Eagles played.

“All the other teams get to practice with their team and go over what they’re going to do,” said Riverside point guard Richard Tribble, who went home to Tampa, Fla., for the break. “They prepare for us or the week they have and we can’t. We’re away.”

In the spirit of taking on the attitude of a coach however, most of the Eagles didn’t use the furlough as an excuse to sit around.

Tribble worked through dribbling and shooting drills. His teammate Dylan Setzekorn took it a step further.

“I spent the break just trying to play,” he said. “You have to look for pickup games and wherever you can play, you play.”

“We know everybody has to work on their own,” Tribble said, “and try to keep up the ability to play so that when they come back, they’re able to play in our next game.”

Bohon admits that while players do work individually during the furlough to stay in shape, “most of them are not in as good of shape as I would like them to be.

“They don’t go home and sit on their couches and do nothing,” he said, “but they’re not in basketball-season shape.”

With only two practices before the first game, running is in the cards.

According to Bohon, however, time is short so the running will not come in the form of traditional conditioning, but full-court drills.

“(Monday) is the one day I can really run them,” Bohon said. “Then I’ll let them catch their breath a little bit (today) and then we play Wednesday.”

Regardless of the rigors that accompany the first couple of practices following furlough, the team is glad to be with each other again.

“We enjoy being around each other,” Setzekorn said. “We’re good friends and a pretty tight unit, so we enjoy getting to come back.”

And for Bohon, even though the first couple of games might be rough as the team finds its footing again, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“The first few games will be a struggle because they haven’t played,” Bohon said. “But the fun part of it is you get to see the progression. They get better, they get better and hopefully by the time the tournament rolls around we’re playing pretty well and that’s our goal.”
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