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LBHC: River Valley outlasts Lindhurst for third place
Falcons hold off late surge
Inside-out was the game the River Valley High boys basketball team played on Saturday night, and it worked — for three quarters.
The Falcons' half-court offense built a 15-2 lead over Lindhurst early on, and they kept that until the waning minutes of the third-place game of the ninth annual Lindhurst Blazer Holiday Classic in Olivehurst.
Even Devin Ward's 32 points and Cedrick Thomas' triple-double couldn't get the Blazers over the hump as the Falcons held on for a 71-69 victory.
Despite trailing by 14 at the half, the Blazers outscored the Falcons 47-36 over the final two quarters to make up the difference, but they got hot too late.
Ward drained three 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds for the Blazers, including one at the buzzer, but the Falcons broke Lindhurst's late full-court press and hit their free throws to seal the win.
"We had to break that press," said River Valley High coach Brad McIntire. "Our whole theory tonight was to go inside-out, but they did a great job coming back and making it a game."
The Falcons took their biggest lead of the game when Stuart Bradley found Jordan Noall inside for a quick bucket to make the score 38-22 to start the second quarter.
It was a familiar sight as Noall finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Bradley ran the floor with efficiency as he dished out seven assists to go with his 18 points.
The Falcons controlled the paint, nearly outrebounding the Blazers 2 to 1 and added six blocks as insult to injury.
Cris Lamas finished with 18 points in the paint with seven rebounds, Josh Dhatt added 15 points, five rebounds and four steals and Bradley also brought down eight boards for River Valley (8-8).
But with 5 minutes remaining, the Blazers turned up the heat and implemented the full-court press. Just 4 minutes later, a 12-point deficit was cut to six.
Thomas scored 10 quick points during that stretch, four coming off a pair of steals.
A see-saw fourth quarter got tight with 2 minutes remaining when Ward drove to the hoop for a score, making the score 63-57.
River Valley answered quickly with a quick layup inside from Lamas. Lindhurst's Malik Payton responded with a hard-earned bucket inside and completed the three-point play by nailing his free throw, cutting the lead to five.
The Falcons turned the ball over twice after that, but the Blazers couldn't capitalize, and were instead forced to foul.
Of Ward's 32 points, 21 came from beyond the arc. He also corralled four steals. Thomas finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals.
The game was night and day compared to the two teams' first matchup on Dec. 14 at the Twin Cities Shootout when the Blazers controlled the momentum and couldn't miss in a 75-64 win.
This time, the Falcons controlled the tempo and executed their game plan.
"We did everything that was planned. It was a good game," McIntire said.
Bradley and Dhatt were named all-tournament for River Valley and Thomas was tabbed for Lindhurst.
Marysville 51, Highlands 35
Brayden Bartolome scored 15 points as the Indians rolled the Scots in the tournament's seventh-place game.
Brandon Graves added 14 points with eight rebounds and Chu Lor tacked on 11 points for the Indians (5-10).