Up most of the game on Monday afternoon, Riverside had ample chances to fold against Rock Ridge rallies in the second half. In fact, when Rock Ridge took a late four-point lead in regulation, it looked like the Rams’ chance to win was gone.
But visiting Riverside never gave up, counter-punching every Phoenix surge with one of its own. Coach Michael Koscinski’s team got key performances across the board when it needed them most, ultimately prevailing 55-50 in overtime in a key Potomac District clash.
Three-point shooting was a big factor in the win, with junior Cameron Koscinski and senior Michael Ziller combining for seven on the afternoon. Riverside led by five at halftime, but Rock Ridge closed to 29-27 early in the third quarter. Then, Ziller drilled a three and junior guard Tyler Flynn found Koscinski open for a trey on the next possession. That gave Riverside its biggest lead of the game at 35-27.
Rock Ridge proceeded to embark on an 8-0 run behind its pressure defense and strong play by senior Mason Hudson, who scored all 14 of his points in the second half. With the game tied, Riverside counter-punched again, as Ziller found Koscinski open for another three and junior forward Jamie Ntiamoah scored on an offensive rebound.
Early in the fourth quarter Rock Ridge went on another run, with consecutive steals and scores by Garrett Donaldson and Nick Ondrus giving the Phoenix a 42-40 lead. In fact, the home team went up four points late with under two minutes left when Phoenix star guard Greg Spurlock stole a pass and threw down a dunk.
Riverside counter-punched immediately, and started to get steals off its press. Junior forward Kyle Koyne entered the game for the first time all afternoon, expressly to guard Spurlock with his team down one. Koyne delivered a steal and was fouled, and tied the game by making one-of-two free throws. Then, after another Rock Ridge turnover, junior guard Tyler Carlton was fouled and hit two free throws to give Riverside 48-46 lead.
The Rams still weren’t out of the woods, as Spurlock found Hudson open for the game-tying layup.
Overtime itself turned out to be Riverside’s final counter-punch. The Rams got the first bucket and never looked back.
There were a ton of heroes, from Koyne who played just a few seconds, to Ziller, who played essentially the whole game. Koscinski and Ziller combined for 27 points while Ntiamoah added 14, 12 in the second half. Carlton was clutch down the stretch at the free throw line, going six-of-eight there in the second half and in overtime. Senior forward Quentin Avila led the team on the boards off the bench and was especially strong in the first half.
“Koyne came in and made the steal there after not playing the whole game, changed the whole tide–heckuva, heckuva, job,” Coach Koscinski said. “Ziller led us…Cam Koscinski was hitting threes…Jamie in open space facing up to the basket [see below]…Q led us in rebounds…total team effort.”
Senior-laden Rock Ridge was led by Spurlock’s 15 points, six assists and six rebounds, as he still did damage against the extra defensive attention Riverside showed him all game. The rest of the Phoenix, led by Hudson, gave Spurlock far more help in the second half (24 points) than they did in the first half (12 points).
With the victory Riverside (5-3) avenged an earlier loss to the Phoenix (6-3) and stayed within striking distance of them and Stone Bridge in the district standings.
“We had a tough one at our place with them and we knew this one would be another grinder,” Coach Koscinski said. “We talk about every possession mattering…we knew there would be swings, we knew it would be a battle. Greg Spurlock is a great player and Rock Ridge has great athletes.”
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Martirossian 1-6, Ondrus 0-1, Donaldson 0-1, Qadri 0-1, Carlson 0-2, Spurlock 0-3|
|Threes: Koscinski 4-6, Ziller 3-4, Carlton 0-1, Flynn 0-1, Frazier 0-1, Ullsperger 0-1|