By Doug Gorman
The atmosphere inside the Riverdale gymnasium was electrifying Saturday night as an overflow crowd watched the Riverdale and Lovejoy basketball teams go at it in a pair of early season basketball games.
In the end, the two teams split as the Riverdale girls rolled to an 84-28 win. The Lovejoy boys held off a Riverdale rally en route to a 68-58 win.
Boys: The Lovejoy boys' basketball team jumped out to a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended it to 36-18 at the break.
Lovejoy needed every bit of the double-digit lead as Riverdale cut into the margin with an impressive second-half spurt.
After Lovejoy's Derek Brooks gave the Wildcats a 41-24 lead late in the third quarter, Riverdale began its comeback cutting the gap to 49-40 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Riverdale's Bryan Gates stepped up with a couple of huge shots. His 3-point jumper in final period trimmed the Wildcats' lead 63-56.
Earlier in the quarter Lovejoy's Daashon Pryor squelched the Raiders' spurt with a timely 3-point shot.
"This was a big win in a hostle environment," said Lovejoy head coach Mac McConnell. "They used a junk defense against us in the second half and made a nice comeback."
Three players scored in double figures for the Wildcats.
Brooks led the way with 24 points, Pryor tossed in 20 points and Ryan Nash scored 10.
Riverdale also placed three players in double figures with Gates leading the way with a 20-point effort. Demarius Patrick had 13 and Gami Lawal added 10.
Riverdale is under the direction of first year head David Boyd, one of the most successful coaches in Georgia High School history. Boyd spent several years as head coach at Berkmar before taking over for long-time Riverdale coach Ken Ross who retired at the end of last year.
"We are still trying to get comfortable with each other and they are still learning my system," said Boyd. "I think it is all going to come together before long and we are going to be a pretty good basketball team."
Lovejoy appeared set to cruise to an easy win almost from the opening tip. The Wildcats broke 2-2 tie early in the game and then scored the next 14 points to take a 16-2 lead.
One of the keys to Lovejoy's victory was its ability to hit shots from the outside.
The Wildcats drained six 3-point shots, including three from Brooks.
Two of Brooks' treys came in the second quarter to help the Wildcats led by 18 at the end of the first half.
Riverdale's Gates also proved he could fire in the long-range jumpers by draining 3-point shots for the Raiders.
Girls: The Riverdale Lady Raiders scored the first 11 points of the game Saturday night against one of its biggest county rivals and never looked back en route to the win.
Putting its fast-break game in high gear, the Lady Raiders jumped out to a 17-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But it was the Riverdale defense that keyed the team's win, holding the Lady Raiders to just nine field goals for the game, including one in the second half.
The Lady Wildcats most productive quarter came in the second quarter when it scored 16 points to trail Riverdale 38-20 at the break.
Riverdale finished with a balanced scoring attack placing five players in double figures.
Antoinettte Williams led the way with 15 points, Sasha Simmons added 13, Brittany Baity and Dominique Phillipots had 12 each. Shalondan Hollingshed finshed with 10 points.
Shari Buford led Lovejoy with 8 points.
From staff reports
Lee Nix scored with 10 seconds remaining to lift the Eagle's Landing Christian Academy Chargers to a 51-49 victory Saturday night over Arlington.
Kyle Pope led ELCA in scoring with 20 points.
"It was a fantastic outing," ELCA boys head coach Joey Bailey said.
The ELCA girls also won Saturday night with a 40-36 win over Arlington. Both the ELCA boys and girls are 2-1 this season.
Sandy Creek 46, Forest Park 25 (girls): Forest Park dropped to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in Region 4-AAAA after Saturday's loss to Sandy Creek (3-2, 3-1).
M'Keyla Reid led Forest Park with 11 points and Sandy Creek's Alysha Ruff led all scorers with 16.
Sandy Creek 55, Forest Park 50 (boys): The Forest Park Panthers dropped to 2-6 overall and 2-2 in Region 4-AAAA action Saturday night after falling at home to Sandy Creek.
The Panthers led by one with two minutes remaining in the game, but couldn't hold the lead.
Randy Jackson led the way for Forest Park with 10 points. James Tukes fired in 9.
Friday night Forest Park plays host to rival North Clayton.