By Jeffery Armstrong
North Clayton sophomore guard Kiara Weems added his name to the storied history of the Riverdale-North Clayton basketball rivalry Saturday night.
Weems sank a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in regulation to give the Eagles a 55-52 win over the Riverdale Raiders in a non-region contest at North Clayton High. Riverdale's Trent Mitchell was fouled beyond the 3-point line as time expired, but he missed all three free throws and wasn't able to send the game to overtime.
"The only thought I had in my mind when I caught the ball was just shoot it," said Weems. "It was a big shot, but I had to step up and make it to help the team."
Neither team stepped up and made shots early; North Clayton (12-3) held slim leads of 9-8 at the end of the first quarter and 21-20 at the half. Both teams improved their shooting in the third quarter as North Clayton's Anthony Harvey scored nine points to help the Eagles make a big run to increase their lead to 38-27 with 1:00 remaining in the quarter. A Mitchell trey at the end of the quarter brought Riverdale (6-8) 10 points down at 40-30 heading into the fourth.
North Clayton forced several Riverdale turnovers and looked to put the game away when Eagles forward Jamal Bowers made a jumper in the lane for a 48-40 lead at the 3:02 mark of regulation. The young Raiders squad didn't quit, however. They started pressing North Clayton and forcing several turnovers to get back in the game and the strategy worked. Riverdale's Quentin Bracey and Brandon Stewart hit baskets and 6-foot-8 center Gani Lawal, who blocked several Eagles shots during the run, had consecutive dunks off turnovers to tie the game at 48 with 2:00 left.
Both teams raced up and down the court during the next couple of minutes, exciting the fans of both schools. Harvey made a layup to give North Clayton the lead again at 50-48, but Stewart hit a shot for Riverdale to tie the game at 50. Harvey again made another shot for a 52-50 lead but Lawal made a layup to tie the game at 52 with 24 seconds left. Riverdale trapped North Clayton, but the Eagles moved the ball effectively and got it to a wide-open Weems, who nailed the game-winning trey for his only points.
Harvey scored 17 points for North Clayton, Vincent Wood added 10 points and seven rebounds and Morgan Burnett nearly had a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Lawal led Riverdale with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks. Mitchell chipped in nine.
Riverdale 63, North Clayton 53 (girls): Riverdale post player Laura Broomfield scored 24 points, leading the Lady Raiders to a victory over the North Clayton Lady Eagles Saturday night. North Clayton fell victim to another slow start, trailing by as many as 16 at one point, but the team hung around and cut the fourth-quarter deficit to seven at 52-45 after four straight points by Michelle Keith. But Broomfield made a nice pass to Shalondan Hollingshed for a 54-45 lead and a minute later, Neicy Lewis sank a trey for a 60-50 lead and the Lady Raiders never looked back. Hollingshed added 11 points for Riverdale (9-3); Ashley Johnson led North Clayton (7-8) with 19 points, followed by 14 from Keith and 12 from Jasmine Sykes.