Robinson leads Hillside past Riverside in OT
Hillside boys basketball coach Crasten Davis stresses to his team that whoever’s number was called in each games’ big moments was the “next up” to make a big play.
On Friday night at Riverside that player was Robert “R.J.” Robinson Jr., as the junior wingman hit a corner three-point field goal with 6.3 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Hornets a 68-67 PAC-6 victory.
“Any given game we don’t know who it will be,” said Davis when asked how he counseled his team after high-touted sophomore point guard Justice Kithcart, who transferred to Hillside from Riverside over the summer, fouled out at the end of regulation. “Tonight it was Robert Robinson making the game winner.”
On the subsequent possession, Joey Cabrera’s desperation heave from about 25 feet was untrue as the Pirates move to 0-2 in PAC-6 4-A play (7-8 overall). Cabrera led all scorers with 25 points.
The teams played evenly in the first quarter before Hillside upped the tempo to take a 33-25 lead into halftime. Riverside scored only one field goal in the second quarter, but stayed in the game because of the rebounding of Markeise Crutchfield who had eight first-half rebounds.
He finished with a game-high 14 boards.
The Pirates were also 9 for 13 from the charity stripe in the second quarter to keep things close.
Riverside hit the switch in the third quarter. The Pirates were led by the hot hand of Cabrera who hit three shots from behind the arc as the Pirates took a 45-43 lead into the final period.
Riverside big man Crutchfield was clutch in the fourth quarter. He hit two free throws to tie the game at 57-57. On the next possession, he took a charge by Kithcart with only seconds remaining.
Hillside struggled from the free-throw line. At one point in the fourth quarter the Hornets were a dismal 1 for 12 for (8 percent).
But the Hornets (7-3, 1-1 PAC-6) made some free throws when it counted. Robinson and Kithcart went 3 for 4 and 3 for 3 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
“You know what, I told this team that teams will lose,” said Davis of his team after its conference opening loss to Jordan earlier this week. “But it’s all about how you respond.”
Robinson responded. He was “Next up.”