BOARDMAN — When Riverside and Burns got together on Jan. 14, a one-sided second quarter set the scene for a Pirates blowout. The win meant the Riverside boys’ basketball team moved into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Oregon League.
Two weeks will have passed by the time the squads suit up for Round 2 this Friday, and Riverside hasn’t played another game in that span.
Wacky weather forced the cancellation of two games for the Pirates (14-1, 2-0 EOL), who may come into this battle a little cold. Recreating live competition in practice is near impossible.
“Shooting wise, I imagine we’ll be a little out of kilter,” Riverside coach Clair Costello said.
But even a stumbling Pirates team is a strong team this season. Riverside has lost just once, a close game with Goldendale (Wash.) and is ranked third in the state in Class 3A basketball for RPI. They manhandled Burns (12-4, 3-1 EOL) in that first meeting, a 51-30 victory.
Riverside and Burns are the top two squads in the EOL, with both having win totals better than that of the conference’s lower four teams combined. If Riverside can bypass Burns again, Costello said, there’s a good shot the Pirates can run the table in league play and take the title.
“It looks that way right now,” the coach said. “I haven’t seen Vale (3-11, 1-1) at all but I’m guessing it’ll be Burns and us in the end.”
Like most teams the Pirates have run into this season, the Hilanders can’t match their height. The tallest Burns regular is 6-foot-3 forward Kiernan Colahan, who is the centerpiece to a quick offense. He plays from the outside on in to the key, Costello said, but had a hard time working too far inside in the teams’ first meeting. He finished with 10 points, but ran into the Pirates’ 6-foot-8 Sean Shimer and 6-foot-5 Marco Carranza once he strayed too close to the basket.
Riverside will work all week in preparation to exploit that matchup further.
“Our kids posted up well inside and we’re going to work hard on that again,” Costello said. “We’ll try and do some different things that we tried up there but weren’t really ready to do yet.”
Riverside is averaging an EOL-best 65.8 points per game while also allowing the fewest points per game in the conference at 36.