After watching an early lead evaporate in Riverside Military’s region opener against Prince Avenue Christian, Eagles point guard Shad Dabney wasn’t about to let the same thing happen in Tuesday’s bout against Providence Christian Academy.
So after jumping out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter against the Storm, Dabney and the rest of his team never let up. The Eagles held Providence Christian to three second-quarter points and allowed just one basket in the final frame of a dominant 75-23 victory.
“We always get up big early and then break down in big games, and sometimes that hurts us,” Dabney said. “I felt like it was good for us to be able to come out and compete and just keep coming and keep coming.”
Dabney scored 17 points and added seven assists and three steals in Riverside Military’s (14-4, 5-1 Region 8-A) fifth straight region win.
The Eagles were efficient offensively throughout the game, but much of the team’s production was driven by the defense. Riverside Military coach Marvin Latham’s squad produced 19 steals on the night.
“We’re athletic, and so we want to take advantage of that,” Latham said. “We preach defense. We tell our kids if you can’t play defense, you can’t play. We try to approach it one way. Up by 100, down by 100, we’re going to play the same way. That’s our mindset.”
That mindset was evident in a second frame that saw the hosting Eagles grab eight steals despite entering the period with a 20-point advantage. The home team allowed three points off a couple of Providence Christian free throws, but did not allow a single shot from the field to connect.
By halftime, Riverside Military’s lead had ballooned to 39.
The Storm managed to find their footing for a short while in the third quarter when they put 12 points on the scoreboard — more than half of their total offensive production from the entire game. But a 13-4 advantage for the Eagles in the final quarter put to rest any sort of comeback bid from the visiting team.
Riverside Military’s win keeps the team in third place of Region 8-A, and sets up a critical matchup against second-place Hebron Christian Academy on Friday night. The Eagles success this year may have been unexpected to the program’s region foes coming into the season, but at this point in the year, every team — Hebron Christian included — knows exactly what to expect, according to Dabney.
“We’re coming,” he said. “There’s no more sneaking up on people. People know who we are. We’ve got a great team, great athletes, and we’re just coming for everybody.”