With a great start and a flashy finish, Riverside is one win away from back-to-back unbeaten seasons in the Yale Cup.
The Frontiers used a 30-5 first quarter to blitz Grover Cleveland, 91-71, in the matchup of top-ranked large schools and Yale Cup unbeatens Monday afternoon at a packed Riverside gym.
Riverside (17-2, 11-0) will play at McKinley (16-3, 10-1) at 4 p.m. Wednesday, the final day of the Yale Cup season. If McKinley beats Riverside, the teams will share the championship, with Grover (15-4, 10-1) earning a share if it beats visiting Lafayette.
"We had a long talk in the locker room before the game to discuss the fact that in the last 30 years there's only been two teams who went back-to-back as outright champions -- Traditional in 2000 and 2001 and McKinley in 78-79," Riverside coach Ron Killinger said. "We said, 'Let's take care of business.' We don't want to share this with anyone."
Riverside, ranked third in The News large school poll, overpowered No. 8 Grover with oppressive defense and unselfish offense that led to starts of 11-0 and 20-2. Mike Williams and Anthony Thomas, both of whom scored 23 points, combined for 20 points in the opening quarter.
"The first quarter set the tone," Killinger said.
The halftime lead was 53-30. Grover got the lead inside 20 after three quarters (69-50) and cut it to 15 (69-54) early in the fourth, but Riverside dunked its lead back above 20 on four straight jams. The first three were by Thomas: a baseline move in which he hung in the hair after a two-footed takeoff, a fast-break one-hander and a high alley-oop to finish off a Williams pass. Williams then attacked the lane with a strong two-hander.
LeTroy New scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half and Ajay Hopson added 13 points for Riverside. Grover was led by senior forward Cantrel Parrish, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark by scoring 22 (he now has 1,018). No. 10 McKinley used its own big start to burst past Bennett, 104-78. Tamere Shannon's triple-double (15 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) was one of five Macks in double figures as they took a 56-31 halftime lead. Rob Hicks and Dmitrian Knight each scored 21 points.