Pirates hold home court against invading Vikings in MLK Classic
When a small school finds itself in a game against a large school, it had better shoot well.
On Saturday in the MLK High School Basketball Classic, the Voyager Academy boys basketball team shot just well enough to keep things interesting but ultimately lost to Riverside 69-59 on Riverside’s home floor.
Voyager is a 1-A school and Riverside is a 4-A school.
“They can shoot the ball well, that’s for sure,” said Riverside coach Brian Strickland. “We were prepared and had an idea of what they wanted to do (defensively).”
Notwithstanding an athletic and size disadvantage, what Voyager wanted to do was apply defensive pressure with a full-court press.
Riverside repeatedly beat it. In the first quarter, Dexter McCrae capitalized on a pair of transition plays, scoring two free throws and a layup as the Pirates took an early four-point lead.
As usual, Riverside leaned on senior leader Joey Cabrera. At the end of the first quarter Cabrera took a charge on the defensive end.
On the subsequent offensive possession, Cabrera sank a 15-foot jump shot from the elbow as the Pirates took a 17-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Riverside then applied full-court pressure of its own. Playing like a football free safety, Michael Hodge intercepted a pass near half court, leading to a CJ Carpenter lay up. On the next play Cabrera made a layup and drew a foul, completing the and-1 play as the Pirates went up 22-11.
However, Voyager was shooting in the bonus early in the second quarter. The Vikings took advantage as they made 6 of 8 free throws and went on an 11-6 run to cut the Pirates’ lead to six points.
Riverside took a 9-point lead into halftime.
Cabrera found himself in foul trouble when he drew a foul early in the third quarter — his third of the game. Strickland chose to bench him for the remainder of the period, necessitating leadership from another player.
That leadership came from Markeise Crutchfield, a junior power forward. Crutchfield pounded the ball inside, scoring eight third-quarter points as the Pirates played the Vikings to a 17-17 standstill in the period.
“There were guys who stepped up and made the most of their time,”
Strickland said of the five players who scored field goals in the third quarter.
Voyager still had a run left in it. With 1:21 remaining in the game, Jay Huff hit a three-pointer to give the Vikings a pulse — albeit a weak one — cutting the Pirates’ lead to 11 points.
The Pirates then had trouble getting the ball to Cabrera, who was 9 for 10 from the charity stripe, and had difficulties closing out the game from the free throw line, going 3 for 9 in the final minute.
Huff made another three-pointer and was fouled, making the free throw with 32 seconds left to cut the lead to eight points.
It was too little great shooting too late for the Vikings to topple the Pirates.
Cabrera was named the game’s MVP, finishing with 20 points.
RIVERSIDE 69, VOYAGER 59
Voyager |11 |13 |17 |18 — 59
Riverside |17 |16 |17 |19 — 69
VOYAGER — Christopher Sause 18, Jay Huff 15, Gary Ford 8, Charlie Stone 5, McKenzie Barringer 4, Nelson White 4, Diante Parker 3, Patrick Lester 2.
RIVERSIDE — Joey Cabrera 20, Markeise Crutchfield 12, Dexter McCrae 11, Eric Peaks 9, Terrence Suitt 7, Justin Johnson 3, CJ Carpenter 2, Johnson Carbuccia 2, Jareel Stewart 2.
3-point field goals — Voyager 4 (Huff 2, Ford 1, Stone 1); Riverside 3 (Johnson 1, Cabrera 1, Peaks 1).
Records — Voyager 11-8, Riverside 8-9.