An explosive third quarter propelled the Riverdale Warriors to a 66-59 win over Upperman on Thursday night in Murfreesboro.
The Bees raced out to an early lead, but ultimately struggled to slow down Riverdale’s shooters as they dropped their season opener.
“I think we got away from what we normally do in the second half and it caught up to us,” said UHS head coach Bobby McWilliams. “We’ve just got to learn to compete. We’ve got to learn from it. If we don’t learn from it, it’s a waste of our time.”
Isaiah Allen made a transition basket late in the first quarter to give Upperman a 16-7 lead.
The Warriors then went on a 5-0 run to open the second quarter. Allen then completed a four-point play after being fouled during a three-pointer.
The momentum of the game shifted after two technical fouls were called against the Bees. The Warriors ended with the possession with three, completing a seven-point possession and giving RHS a 25-22 lead.
Allen hit a three with one second remaining in the quarter to give Upperman a 31-30 lead at halftime.
The teams went back-and-forth in the third quarter before the Warriors hot shooting helped them go on a 5-0 run to take a 50-42 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors hit another three early in the fourth quarter to take a 55-44 lead. The Bees battled back to cut the deficit to 55-51 before the Warriors put the game out of reach in the final minutes to secure the 66-59 win.
“You can’t leave their best shooters any easy looks, but some of their secondary players made some too,” said McWilliams. “That makes it harder to defend them. I did not think defensively in the second half we competed as hard as Upperman teams usually do. I was disappointed in that, but that’s my responsibility as a coach to get that done. We’ve got to get better at that.”
Allen led the way for Upperman with 21 points. Rush added 16 while Colin Gore tallied 13. Jace McWilliams rounded out the scoring with nine points.
Upperman (0-1) will now turn their attention towards a matchup with AAA opponent Clarksville Northeast (1-0). Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. Saturday in the Next Level Hoops Classic at CPA in Nashville.
“Losing’s not easy and it’s not acceptable,” said McWilliams. “We’re going to learn from it and I think this game was very beneficial for us going forward.”
Photos by Noah McKay: