By Jeffery Armstrong
The annual Riverdale-North Clayton basketball rivalry lived up to its billing Saturday afternoon at North Clayton High. Both games were close and play was crisp on both sides throughout the day. The Riverdale girls won their contest, while the North Clayton boys managed to hang on for victory.
Riverdale 58, North Clayton 51 (girls): The Riverdale Lady Raiders held the North Clayton Lady Eagles to five points in the fourth quarter en route to winning a close 58-51 contest Saturday afternoon.
Dominique Philpots was the key for Riverdale (5-1), scoring 30 points and getting several key rebounds.
The Lady Eagles (5-2) lost this game despite playing a very smooth floor game against the No. 11 team in Class AAAAA. North Clayton trapped and pressed Riverdale's guard tandem of Brittany Baity and Dequisha Davis at the start, resulting in some turnovers and a few easy baskets. Riverdale stayed in the game thanks to Tulane signee Philpots, who scored 11 points in the first quarter.
The score was deadlocked at 14 after the first and at 29 at the half.
North Clayton took its first lead of the contest at 31-29 in the third quarter. The action was still nip-and-tuck and again, the score was deadlocked at 46 at the end of the third.
Baity started the scoring for Riverdale in the fourth, making a layup as she was fouled by North Clayton's Christina Royster. She converted the three-point play for a 49-46 lead. Royster made up for her foul by sinking a 3-pointer to tie the game at 49.
The game was knotted at 51 with 4:00 left in regulation, but that was the last tie of the game. Shalondan Hollingshed made a layup and Philpots hit another short-range jumper for a 55-51 lead with 1:30 left. North Clayton tried to come back, but the Lady Eagles turned the ball over several times and Riverdale sank three free throws down the stretch for the final margin.
Baity added nine points for Riverdale; Royster led North Clayton with 16 points, followed by Ashley Johnson with 10 and Jasmine Sykes with eight.
North Clayton 56, Riverdale 50 (boys): Josh Brewster led three players in double figures with 14 points and Jonathan Bolston grabbed another key rebound off the free-throw line to lead the North Clayton Eagles to a 56-50 victory over the Riverdale Raiders.
North Clayton (7-3) took advantage of its height in the first half, getting several inside baskets and sprinting to a 30-20 halftime lead. Brewster and Jamal Bowers scored four points apiece in the second quarter and Bolston led the team with seven points in that quarter. Riverdale (4-4) hung in the game, thanks to five points from Bryan Gates in the second.
With Riverdale sharpshooter Sean Hightower having an off night, teammate Demarius Patrick took over. Patrick scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half to close the gap. North Clayton had a 40-28 lead midway through the third quarter, but Patrick's strong play led Riverdale on an 8-0 run for a 40-36 Eagles lead at the end of the third.
Riverdale got within three at 53-50 with 22 seconds left. Brewster was at the foul line, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one. Bolston grabbed the rebound and Brewster was fouled again. He made one of two free throws to seal the game.
"We forced a lot of shots in this game," said Brewster, a senior. "But thanks to our hard work and dedication, we stepped it up and did what we had to do to win."
Bowers scored 12 points and Bolston added 11 for North Clayton. Gates finished with 12 for Riverdale.
Eagles head coach Steven Cole was happy with his team's effort in his first North Clayton-Riverdale game as a coach.
"We did a good job running our offense and we took advantage of the mismatches inside," Cole said.