Riley Survives Toughest Test of Season, Begins 4-0 For Second Straight Year
December 9th, 2016
By Korbett Koselak-Riley High School Senior
MISHAWAKA – The (4-0, 2-0 NIC) South Bend Riley Wildcats had their first road test of the season on Tuesday, at (1-3, 0-1) Mishawaka.
“If we’re going to win the conference (Northern Indiana Conference), we have to win everything at home, and steal some stuff on the road!” 15th Cead coach Mark Johnson has echoed through pre-game locker rooms throughout this season. Tuesday was Riley’s opportunity to do just that, steal a game on the road.
It would not come easy as a nine point halftime lead was shrunk to just four with six minutes remaining in the ballgame. The game remained tight in the waning minutes before Riley Junior Forward Damezi Anderson did what he does best, scored the basketball. Twelve of Anderson’s team high 30 points came in the fourth quarter after going scoreless in the third. Only one other Wildcat would reach double figures, Junior Forward Shamar Dillard scored 12 points, but that did not stop South Bend Riley from defeating the Mishawaka Cavemen, 70-61.
“This is a very tough place to play. I thought our guys did a great job, and we we’re able to come through and get a big conference win on the road.” Coach Johnson said in a raucous locker room following Tuesday’s big win.
The second 30 point game for Anderson this season as he scored 34 in the opener vs. Michigan City.
“Well you start to say that guy is your leading scorer, but notice how many assists and how many people got the ball to him in the right spot.” Johnson said of Anderson leading the team in scoring for the fourth consecutive game to begin this season.
Two of the rotation players for the Mishawaka Cavemen played for Riley last season in Junior Forward John Binion and Junior Guard Payton Johnson. Both shined in the loss for the Cavemen, Binion led the team with 21 points, while Johnson added 6 on two crucial three-pointers down the stretch.
For the second time in as many seasons, the Riley Wildcats are 4-0. Coming into this season, the question was “How would Riley respond from losing its all-time leading scorer Reontre Lawrence?” Well, the Cats have answered that question and a few more in route to a 4-0 record with an average margin of victory of a whopping 14 points. There are flaws within every basketball team, this team, for now, has answers. Final from The Cave: South Bend Riley 70, Mishawaka 61.
Riley then defeated Southport High School of Indianapolis, 61-51. I was not able to attend that contest, but Riley improved to 5-0 for first time in 15 seasons under Johnson. The Cats next contest is Tuesday, at (2-4) Concord.