Rebels chomp Gators, 57-53

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2008


Sports Editor

After a number of near misses in 2008, Riverside earned what’s been a long time in coming – its first district win of the season.

The Rebels overcame an early 15-2 deficit to come back and secure a District 10-2A victory at Fisher, 57-53, on Thursday night.

After not going winless in district play throughout all of last season, and for the first six games of this season, Riverside’s win comes as a major boost for those who have patiently waited.

“When it was over, you could see on the faces of the players and the parents who have followed the team just how excited everyone was,” said Riverside Coach Ben Wilson. “It’s well deserved by these guys.”

In the first meeting between the teams on Jan. 22 at Riverside, Fisher (10-18, 1-6) was able to erase a Rebels lead and force overtime, where the Gators won, 65-59.

This time, Riverside (14-15, 1-6) would have an answer for Fisher’s late game bid for a victory. Bobby Smith hit three 3-pointers in the final quarter. Josh Tassin and Jade Falgoust came up with key steals. Alex Bonnette and Jordan Rebaldo secured some big rebounds, and the Rebels marched on to victory.

“We played eight or nine guys tonight, and each one brought something positive to the table,” said Wilson. “We needed each guy to get that win.”

Tassin led the Rebels with 18 points. Smith scored 13, and Kane Keller scored 12.

Wilson said that defense was the difference in the win.

“We picked up our defensive pressure down the stretch,” he said. “That got us going. In the last (meeting between the teams), we didn’t pick it up until it was too late.”

Riverside scored the last five points of the first quarter to cut Fisher’s 13-point lead to eight.

Then the Rebels’ offense came alive, as the Rebels outscored the Gators 20-16 in the second quarter to make it a four-point game at halftime.

Riverside went ahead 40-38 entering the fourth, and a late surge put the Rebels ahead by seven.

“When we got the lead, we were able to limit them to one shot offensively,” said Wilson. “We hit some big shots to pull it out.”