BOARDMAN — It’s near impossible to mount a comeback if the leading team won’t miss any shots and the Riverside boys’ basketball team verified that fact Saturday night. Against an excellent shooting squad from Horizon Christian that shot above and beyond its nature, the Pirates saw their season come to an end in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs 76-71.
The Hawks from Tualatin started the game 6-for-6 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line to jump out in front before Riverside (22-3, 10-0 Eastern Oregon League) could even get comfortable. It wasn’t until 1:24 left in the first quarter that a Hawk shot clanged off iron instead of grazing net.
The entire game felt like a comeback effort after Horizon Christian (19-9, 12-2 West Valley League) managed to tally 19 points in the first eight minutes, Riverside’s Omar Murillo said. The Hawks shot 70 percent in the first half and 59 percent for the game.
But the contest was far from determined in the first two quarters. Riverside trailed by 14 points with 3:15 left in the game before a final push by the Pirates’ offense.
Sean Shimer, the 6-foot-8 senior who missed weeks with a partially torn ACL, returned Saturday in partial time, but came up big in the fourth quarter. He scored 10 of his 17 points during the stretch, despite playing “timid” in a knee brace at times, he said. Riverside yanked the game back into one-possession territory twice, but free throws and more timely made baskets by the Hawks halted the charge.
“I trusted us to listen to coach (Dave) Brown in the final stretch because he always gets us through,” Hawks’ junior Wyatt Houston said.
In reality, the Hawks were putting their trust in Houston, who had no problem crushing the Pirates’ hopes over and over with long 3-point shots. Horizon Christian regularly had three or four players on the court 6-3 or taller, but
did their real damage from the outside. Houston tallied four from long range and finished with 29 points while playing every minute of the game.
"We knew he could shoot, but we didn’t know he could shoot like that,” Riverside coach Clair Costello commented on Houston’s big night.
The visiting team also got 23 points and nine rebounds from Michael Loomis, another big man who measures 6-6.
Riverside’s horse Marco Carranza, the EOL’s Player of the Year, put together a good night scoring with 21 points, but did that on a lackluster 9-of-24 from the field.
Riverside could have made up some of its deficit with free throws. The Pirates sunk only seven of 15 shots, just three of those after halftime.