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Riverside falls to Spencer
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Riverside Military Academy basketball coach Rico Zackery was visibly frustrated with his team’s turnover troubles during their Class AA first-round playoff game Friday against Spencer at Curtis Hall.

Despite a season-long journey to minimize giving the opposition extra scoring opportunities, the Eagles (17-5) committed 20 turnovers, which resulted in a 65-52 opening-round playoff loss to the Green Wave (18-10).

“We had played well to this point,” Zackery said. “But they put more pressure on us than any other team had this season and we just didn’t adjust like we should have.

“(Spencer) was the most athletic team we’ve faced all season.”

Of course, Spencer’s first-option scoring threat of Jamell Crowley and his game-high 28 points (17 in the first half) also played a big role in the outcome too. Green Wave coach Walter Jackson wanted to get the ball down low to Crowley early and try and get

Riverside’s forwards and center in early foul trouble.

He succeeded at both.

Crowley’s third basket of the first quarter came on a rebound off a missed 3-pointer to give the Green Wave an early 11-3 lead, which capped an 11-0 scoring run for Spencer.

At the same time, Eagles senior Brandon McKinney and junior Tarvin Dukes were hampered with two early fouls from trying to
disrupt Crowley’s inside presence.

“The one problem was that we didn’t rebound well early,” Jackson said. “We wanted to come out aggressive early, but finally got Damion Brown going in the second half which really helped us out.”

Brown, who finished with 22 points, got into the action by scoring with a layup with 1:10 left in the first half to extend the Green Wave lead to 27-20. Then at the buzzer, Crowley was fouled on a rebound attempt and made both free throws to take a 30-22 lead into halftime.

Brown was also a weapon at the free throw line for Spencer, making 9 of 12 from the line. After creating a turnover early in the third quarter, he was fouled on the layup attempt and made both free throws. Then, Spencer’s defense responded with back-to-back blocks of Riverside shots.

“Their defense got after us all night,” Zackery said. “We just weren’t as focused as I felt we should have been.

“You’re going to have nights when you’re just off, and we were off tonight.”

Riverside narrowed Spencer’s lead to 53-47 with 2:57 left to play with a 3-pointer from Richard Tribble. However, the Spencer offense responded with back-to-back baskets, including an off-balanced layup from Brown that rolled in.

Brandon McKinney scored a team-high 19 points for the Eagles and Dylen Setzekorn added 13, despite playing with a pulled groin. Riverside’s season is now finished.

Spencer faces Blessed Trinity in the second round on Tuesday in Roswell.
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