It took every bit of Anthony Chavez’s record-setting nine, 3-point baskets and 29 total points and a game-winning layup from Marcus Hinh to send Riverdale Ridge’s boys basketball team to the Sweet 16.
The Ravens squandered a 10-point, first-quarter lead, rallied from a nine-point deficit in the second half and held off Thomas Jefferson 69-67 in the second round of the state 4A boys basketball tournament Feb. 26. The game was in Thornton.
In addition to Chavez’s scoring outburst, the Ravens’ Ryan Leopold scored 24 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Jathan Alston added eight. The Spartans’ top scorer was Will Perkins, who tossed in 17 points. Armon Baker, Doren Sacha and Josiah Gordon chipped in with 12 points.
After Hinh’s game-winning layup, the Spartans had three chances to win the game. All three chances missed the mark.
“Man. That’s once in a lifetime, man,” said Hinh, who finished with nine points, including a 3-pointer to end the first quarter. “It was a team effort. I love my team. It wasn’t a designed play. I just looked to score, and I took advantage.”
Chavez made four of his 3-pointers in the second half. He sank a jumper with 90 seconds to go to give his team a two-point lead, a lead that disappeared when the Spartans’ Josiah Gordon sank a jump shot.
“Our defense, at the end of the game, started to press harder,” Chavez said. “We were playing too fast. But we slowed it down. We had a couple of meetings. But the last time really got to us, and we started to work harder. He (coach Byron Gray) said, ‘Keep going, and we can’t foul.’”
“The kids showed grit. They showed fight,” Gray said. “We were making mistakes early that got us in trouble. When we finally stopped making those mistakes, we got every possession we wanted.”
When the mistakes stopped, the Ravens started to take advantage of the presence of Brady Greene, all 6 feet 6 inches of him. Greene finished with seven points.
“That makes a big difference. He was the mismatch where we kept saying, ‘Get it into Brady. Get it into Brady,’” Gray said. “Once we started finally getting it into him, that freed everything else up.”
Chavez said a win is a win, regardless of its looks.
“It’s better to win,” Chavez said. “We should have beat them by more.”
Hinh thought the way the Ravens won was more important.
“We fought hard,” Hinh said. “We kept fighting. We didn’t stop after we were down. We came back, and we won the game.”
“At playoff time, we knew it was going to be tough,” Gray said. “We knew we were going to be in a fight. We have to go back to the drawing board and get better the next game.”