Decked out with bright pink outlines on socks, shoe laces and sweatbands, Aberdeen’s boys basketball program honored its seniors on Tuesday.
River Ridge emerged after the ceremonies and decked Sam Benn Gym with baskets, long-range bombs and a fast-paced style that took control of this Evergreen 2A contest, winning 73-54.
The Hawks’ two-time league MVP, Brad Wallace, finished his night with a game-high 38 points, 22 of them in the second half. Senior Collin Nord led the Bobcats with 17 points.
“We just did not play very well in the first half,” AHS head coach Leonard Barnes said. “We didn’t play well on offense. We didn’t play well on defense. Third quarter, I thought we played well. I think the reason for the first half was we lacked the intensity needed coming out of the locker room. These teams are all competitive and this team has won eight in a row now. They’re good and you have to match the intensity. We didn’t match the intensity and didn’t play as a team.”
Aberdeen (1-9, 5-13) never led in the contest. Wallace put that notion to bed early with a deep 3-point basket to give the Hawks a lead they never relinquished. Both teams were shaky to start, but River Ridge (8-3, 13-6) found its groove inside, with a few steals converted into layups.
Adding a full-court trapping defense on each made basket, the Hawks forced the Bobcats to speed up the game. Methodically, the lead grew to 16-8 after one quarter. Backed up by their defense, the Hawks pressed their advantage in the second quarter with a 20-11 frame and a 36-19 halftime score.
Wallace had three treys to his ledger in the first half, two of them from 3-4 steps beyond the 3-point line. Add in a few slashing drives and steals-to-layups and the senior guard had 16 points.
Aberdeen’s defense stepped to the front of the court in the third quarter. Keeping Wallace busy away from the ball and forcing turnovers from the rest of the River Ridge lineup, Aberdeen pulled in a 12-4 run to get to within nine, 40-31, with just under three minutes remaining.
Steals by Charlie Dietrich, inside baskets by Nord and transition baskets by Deon Schlesser powered the run.
However, Wallace would not be silenced for much longer, scoring eight of the Hawks’ last 12 points of the quarter, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from deep beyond the left wing. The bomb punctuated a 52-37 lead after three and the Bobcats would get no closer on this night.
The Bobcats shuffled in some of their junior varsity sophomores in the fourth quarter — Addam Follett, Cole Edwards and Austin Floch — for some playing time. Barnes cited Schlesser for his overall effort on Tuesday.
Before the contest, Dietrich, Nord, Reilly Fairchild, Devan Harke, Ashton Williamson and Zack Ball were honored on Senior Night.
On Friday, Aberdeen travels to Capital.
RR 16 20 16 21 — 73 Abe 8 11 18 17 — 54
River Ridge (73) — Coates 6, Price 2, Wallace 38, Schultz 2, Parker 5, Key 6, Roberts 3, Kananin 3, Rader 2, Coleman 6. FG — 29-51 (.569). FT — 8-10.
Aberdeen (54) — Dietrich 7, Cheema 4, Fairchild, Harke, Williamson 2, Schlesser 9, Nord 17, Ball 11, Taylor, Follett 2, Edwards, Floch. FG — 24-49 (.490). FT — 3-6.
JV — Aberdeen 54, River Ridge 28. Cole Edwards 12 points, Addam Follett 11 for AHS.
C Squad — Aberdeen 37, River Ridge 30. Mark James 14 points for AHS.