The Riverdale Baptist High School boys’ basketball team held off a resilient Clinton Christian squad to earn a 71-67 victory at Suitland High School on Saturday.
At several points throughout the contest it appeared that the Crusaders (17-2 overall, 2-0 Capital Beltway) were pulling away on the scoreboard, only to see the Eagles claw back and reduce the deficit.
“I thought that we were in control for most of the basketball game, I just think we didn’t close out at the end of the quarters very well,” Riverdale coach Lou Wilson said. “We had some miscues with the ball, and they are a very good scoring team, so they were able to capitalize and stay in the game. Had we been able to control the tempo of the game with our guard play, I think we could have won by maybe 10 or 12 or 15 points. Credit to them, whenever we opened the door, they took advantage of it.”
Contributing to the Crusaders struggles at both ends of the court, center Chinanu Onuaku was in foul trouble for most of the contest and spent long stretches parked on the bench. The senior finished with 12 rebounds, seven points and four blocks.
“I think it was fine, because I got to cheer on my teammates” Onuaku said. “I know the foul trouble took me out of my game, but I can still help my team in other ways like rebounding.”
Taron Oliver shook off a slow start to score 10 of his 12 points in the second half, with most of his minutes coming in relief of Onuaku.
“It’s kind of difficult for big guys coming of the bench to get warmed up and get into the flow of the game,” Wilson said. “He struggled early on, but once he got into the flow and got more touches around the basket, I think he contributed very well.”
DeQuan Abron paced the Riverdale offense with 16 points, Alexander Long scored 11 and pulled down 10 boards and Eton Thomas supplied eight points off the bench.
For Clinton Christian, Jon Davis led the way with 21 points and four assists, 13 of those points came in the fourth quarter, as the Eagles (9-2, 0-1) seemed to be looking for him on nearly every possession during their furious comeback attempt. Byron Hawkins finished with 17 points, Ahsante Shivers scored 13 and Leroy Butts chipped in with a double-double (13 rebounds, 10 points).
“It was a great game,” Hawkins said. “I think we fought back hard, and I really like that about our team. I think a lot of our shots didn’t fall that we would normally hit, like me for example and maybe a couple of the other guys too. If those shots fall, it might be a different game.”
Oliver believes that the Crusaders can use this close call as motivation to continue to improve as a team down the stretch.
“This is a big win because it gives us confidence heading into the next game, but it also puts a strike on our back because we are 2-0 so far,” he said. “We just have to keep going hard in practice and working hard in the games.”
Riverdale Baptist 71, Clinton Christian 67
Riverdale Baptist (17-2, 2-0) 16 11 21 23 — 71
Clinton Christian (9-2, 0-1) 14 11 12 30 — 67
Riverdale Baptist: DeQuan Abrom 16; Taron Oliver 12; Alexander Long 11; Eton Thomas 8; Chinanu Onuaku 7; Apronti Jones 7; Devin Steele 6; JeDon Young 4.
Clinton Christian: Jonathan Davis 21; Byron Hawkins 17; Ahsante Shivers 13; Leroy Butts 10; Allante Holston 4; Develle Phillips 2.