Riverdale forward Quincy January has been one of the top players for the Raiders during their four tournament games over the holiday break. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
RIVERDALE — Riverdale seemed in control of its game with Burke County on Friday in the Southside Christmas Classic at Drew High.
After leading by 26 points at the intermission, the Raiders nearly blew it in the second half.
But Riverdale was able to hand on, thanks to the scoring of Quincy January and Isaiah Gilliard. The Raiders got a 62-46 win on Friday evening for its second straight win in the three-day tournament.
Riverdale led 40-14 at the intermission.
“We just have to learn how to close out games,” Riverdale coach Tony Brinson said. “We didn’t do a good job of finishing the game. We came out in the second half and act like we didn’t know what we were doing. I had to consistently preach to them to pick up their intensity.”
The night before, Riverdale defeated Whitewater in the first night of the tournament, which has a round-robin format.
“We are still learning and getting our chemistry as a team,” January said. “We are starting to play as a team. I think the games over this break are going to help us in the second half of the season.”
January finished with a game-high 21 points while Abdoulie Williams had 17 points and Omar Touray finished with 15 points for the Raiders. With the win, Riverdale enters Saturday’s game against Ramsay of Birmingham, Ala., with a 8-2 record.
“We got some real good balanced scoring,” Brinson said. “We are looking for that effort in every game.”
The Raiders entered the tournament at Drew coming off a fifth-place finish at the Chuck Miller Holiday Classic at Henry County High in McDonough. In that tournament, Riverdale opened with a loss to Campbell High before getting wins over Fulton Leadership Academy and host Henry County in the fifth-place game.
Brinson said playing in back-to-back tournament should help his team in the second half of the season, and in the region tournament. Last season, the Raiders lost to Dutchtown in the quarterfinals in the Region 4-AAAA tournament, to get eliminated from a state playoff berth.
“This experience in the tournaments should be helpful for us,” Brinson said. “We are playing against some good tough competition over the Christmas break. We realize that we have a tough task ahead once we get back into our region schedule.”
This is Brinson’s second second year as the boy’s coach. Prior to that, he coached the girl’s team at Riverdale.
“We are starting to play together as a team,” Williams said. “Our biggest problem against Burke County is that we got too comfortable with the lead. We have to put teams away when we get a big lead.”