Richland Northeast went into Friday night’s Region 4-4A showdown with Ridge View a little short-handed but, thanks to the early play of Devante Anderson and Quiron Cooke, that didn’t become a factor.
The two seniors combined for 37 points — 24 in the decisive first half — as the Cavaliers cruised to a 67-46 victory against the Blazers in the region opener for both teams.
The early marksmanship by the guard duo from long range set the tone. They connected on five first-half 3 pointers that helped Richland Northeast establish a lead that it would never relinquish.
“It was a good way to start region play,” RNE coach Jason Powell said. “It was high intensity, and it sure did help us to get off to a great start. We shot the ball well in the first half and really played well. I was pleased with the effort.”
Powell was not sure Cooke, who had 17 points, was going to play. He sprained his ankle late in Thursday’s practice and was questionable. But he responded well to treatment and never missed a beat. Cooke was coming off a 32-point performance against Keenan to win MVP honors of the Capital City Classic Tournament last week.
He picked up where he left off. He drained two 3-pointers in the second quarter and had 13 points at the half.
Anderson, who finished with a game-high 20 points, chipped in three 3-pointers and had 11 points in the half to help the Cavaliers (12-3, 1-0) build a 32-19 lead at the break. Anderson and Cooke scored 21 points in a row at one point for RNE that helped stretch the lead to as many 15 points. During that time, they outscored Ridge View 21-6.
“Give RNE a lot of credit,” Ridge View coach John Combs said. “They were much better than us. We made plenty of mistakes, starting with me and the coaching. Anderson and Cooke were fantastic and we just were not very sound defensively.”
The Cavaliers were 13-of-25 from the field in the opening half while the Blazers (8-6, 0-1) struggled. Ridge View finished 8-of-31 in the first half and never could find an answer on the offensive end.
“It was a solid effort by all our guys,” Powell said. “Anderson and Cooke really set the tone early for us, and I thought we played pretty good defense for most of the night. We had guys come in off the bench and give us quality minutes and that’s what we need to be successful.”
The thing Powell might be most pleased with is the way his team never allowed Ridge View to get back in it. Putting teams away has been a problem for RNE for most of the season.
Aaron Scott, who didn’t play in the first half, scored 11 second-half points, and the Cavaliers stretched the lead to as many as 25 points in the third quarter.
But the Blazers had one final run in them. Gary Bradshaw, who finished with 12 points, ignited a 13-0 run that pulled the Blazers within 12 early in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers closed on a 17-8 spurt behind seven points from Anderson.
“That was really the first time we’ve responded like that when a team has made a run at us,” Powell said. “We’ve let a lot of teams hang around that maybe we should have put away earlier. That was nice to see us answer that run to where they cut the deficit to 12 points in the fourth quarter.”
RV – Gary Bradshaw 12, Howell 8, Brantley 6, Halley-Oswell 6, Jackson 5, Portee 4, Roman 3, Doctor 2. RNE – Devante Anderson 20, Quiron Cooke 17, Aaron Scott 11, Phillips 8, Benjamin 6, Foulks 3, Williams 2.