Tenacity brought Richland Northeast High within a few plays of a monumental basketball upset Monday night.
The talent they faced, though, proved too much to overcome.
After trailing New York' Rice High by three points with just over three minutes to play, the host Cavaliers scored one basket the rest of the game to lose 58-49 in a Chick-fil-A Classic second-round game.
The Cavaliers (6-2) stayed within single-digits of Rice, the nation's 17th-ranked team, for all but a couple of minutes of the second half.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
They did so with sophomore guards Travis Hammond and Quinn Martin playing nearly the entire game. And RNE hung tough despite senior center Jarred Guest picking up four first-half fouls that limited his availability.
"I couldn't be more proud of our players," RNE coach Jason Powell said. "We lost but we know this will do nothing but help us, especially in our region. This will give us more confidence knowing that we can play with the best teams in the country."
Rice (4-0) presented height matchup problems for the Cavs as the Raiders featured 6-foot-7 Kansas State recruit Shane Southwell and 6-8 senior forward Kadeem Jack.
RNE's best post player, Guest, was called for his fourth foul midway through the first half and the Raiders took a 29-21 halftime edge. It would have been worse except for a pair of Hammond 3-pointers, plus senior guard Donald Tention's 3-pointer and impressive drive and score that kept RNE close.
Playing aggressively, Tention led RNE with 14 points, while Hammond finished with 13.
"The home court is always tough," Rice coach Mo Hicks said. "They played well and did a good job coming at us."
The Cavaliers trailed 33-31 when Guest returned with 11:18 to play. But Rice quickly grabbed momentum behind junior guard Kevin Perez, who sank two 3-pointers and scored a layup for a 41-31 Raiders lead.
Still, RNE was not done.
Guest scored three consecutive RNE baskets and Chris Branch scored his only basket of the game to slice Rice's lead to 44-39. Tention's 3-pointer with 6:15 cut the deficit to 48-44.
Tention's 3-pointer with 3:23 to play pulled the Cavaliers within three points at 50-47. But it proved to be as close as RNE would come.
After a spate of sloppiness where the ball bounded back and forth between the teams, Southwell grabbed the ball and slammed home two points at 2:25. Guest missed a slam for the Cavs, but Jack's dunk at 1:10 pushed the Raiders' lead to 54-47.
"We had a height advantage and that was the difference," Hicks said. "We have to be able to build a lead and sustain a lead. When we do that, we'll be a good team."
RNE: Jarred Guest 12, Travis Hammond 13, Martin 3, Donald Tention 14, Quarles 5, Branch 2. R: Sanders 9, Kadeem Jack 16, Southwell 6, Reid 4, Arias 7, Andujar 6, Suber 2, Perez 8.