The math just didn’t add up for head coach Marvin Latham and the Riverside Military Academy Eagles.
It would end up being the difference in their first loss of the season.
Junior guard Michael Weidner hit a runner in the lane with 1.9 seconds remaining in double overtime to lead the Indians (1-3) to a 51-49 victory at Curtis Hall in Gainesville.
But Latham felt the Eagles (2-1) lost control of the game much earlier by missing 19 free throws and giving up simple turnovers down the stretch.
“Things like that, it’s hard to come back from that,” he said. “We’ve got to get back to work.”
Riverside had just one practice session following the Thanksgiving break, and it showed late. The Eagles were only able to sink three field goals in the two overtime periods, and allowed two Indians to score back-to-back baskets in the final 40 seconds to pull away.
The latter shot, from Weidner (12 points), was the dagger blow for the hosts. With 11.6 seconds remaining, the 5-10 guard took a quick pass from teammate Michael Van Hooser, cut through two different Riverside defenders to make a simple layup that gave Tallulah Falls its final lead. Garett Wilson tried to find Juwan Thompson (12 points) with the ensuing inbounds pass, but Thompson couldn’t gather it in time to put up an attempt.
“If Michael could throw it into Michael, Michael could take it or even give it back to Michael so he could take it,” said Indians coach Jim Van Hooser, smiling.
Riverside beat Tallulah Falls by 18 points on the road to open the season, but took a step backwards on home court. The Eagles blew a 34-27 fourth-quarter lead by allowing four different Indians to reach the foul line in the final three minutes before Bryant Rudolph’s last-ditch shot at the end of regulation was blocked.
Latham’s team held two-point leads in both overtime periods, but allowed simple runners through the middle of the paint that kept Tallulah Falls in the contest. Riverside made just three of its eight free throw attempts in the second overtime, while the Indians knocked home two of their four.
“I feel good about our ability to score, but on the days when you’re not scoring well, you need to play good defense,” said Latham, who said his team missed six layups before halftime. “We didn’t figure out how to win. We got the shots that we wanted.”
The Eagles did well to overcome a sluggish start with their commitment to defense. Thompson and Davis Short (7 points) made back-to-back steals in the backcourt and converted them into easy layups to tie the game at 25-25 just before the fourth quarter. Riverside closed the third with a 6-0 run.
Wiley Burns then scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth to give Riverside a seven-point lead that was ultimately too much to handle.
1 2 3 4 OT 2OT FINAL
TALLULAH 7 7 11 14 6 6 51
RIVERSIDE 5 9 11 14 6 4 49
RIVERSIDE MILITARY ACADEMY: Juwan Thompson 12, Wiley Burns 12, Javon Thompson 7, Davis Short 7, Garett Wilson 3, Bryant Rudolph 3