Boys basketball: Ravens' season ends after first trip to Sweet 16

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MEAD -- Riverdale Ridge's first trip to the Sweet 16 of the state 4A boys basketball tournament did not end in a win. But it might set the stage for future endeavors for the program.

At least that's what RRHS coach Byron Gray thinks.

"These guys are young. We've got a young group,." he said. "We're preparing for the future. We're going to keep building, keep adding on. This is year four of the program. This is where we are at. That's not bad at all."

The Ravens lose just three seniors -- Lane Hawkins, Anthony Chavez and RJ Holliday.

"There's a bunch of talent in the pipeline," Gray said. "We've got some eighth-graders coming in. We're going to be solid."

The Ravens led after the first quarter. The Mavericks scored the last nine points of the second quarter to take a halftime lead. Ryan Leopold, who finished with 17 points, scored 10 in a row in the third quarter to pull the Ravens to within three points. Mead's James Shiers converted from the inside, and Nick Basson scored from 3-point range to extend the Mavericks' lead to seven points after the third quarter.

"Riverdale is a tough team. They are big and fast," Shiers said. "They do everything well. We just outplayed them in the fourth (quarter). They are all tough, but we handled it well. We watched film. We knew what was coming, You can know what's coming, but it's better to guard it than watch it."

Jathan Alston took over the Ravens' scoring effort in the fourth quarter. His half-dozen points cut Mead's lead to five points with a minute to play. But Shiers made four free throws, and Basson added two more to seal the win.

Brady Greene scored 12 points, and Alston added 10. Shiers led all scorers with 20 points. Basson scored 18, and Elijah Knudsen contributed eight.

"I liked our fight. We knew they were going to make a run, and we had to respond. Each time, we responded," Gray said. "That's a good team. We knew exactly what we were facing."

The Ravens finished the season with a record of 18-7.

"We anticipated a fight, and that's what we gave them," Gray said. "The guys were pretty confident coming in. We made a few mistakes, and they made us pay for it. That's the way the game works. That's what you learn from. You come back and be better."

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