By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
MADISON TOWNSHIP —
Adam Hockman kept Riverside in the game in the first half on Tuesday, then sank the winning basket.
The senior post drove the left side of the lane in the waning seconds and banked in a shot that gave the Beavers a thrilling 85-84 win on Madison’s home floor.
Riverside (4-2, 4-0 in the Premier Athletic Conference) overcame a whopping 33-point, 17-rebound performance by Stephon Ortiz for the victory.
Hockman (18 points) scored all 11 of his team’s points in the second quarter while the Blue Streaks built a 35-27 halftime lead. His game-winner capped a wild and phrenetically-paced second half which saw Riverside outscore Madison 58-49 and overcome a deficit which reached 12 points in the first minute.
Following a Madison timeout with 4.5 seconds left, Brandon Smith took the inbounds pass deep in the backcourt and dribbled all the way into the lane, but he left his shot from the lane off the front of the rim.
“(Hockman) saved us,” Riverside coach Adam May said. “We had a lot of foul trouble. But a lot of guys stepped up today.
“It was a big shot. I preach to the guys that it’s never the last play that wins you or loses the game. It’s the play earlier, where you gave up that stupid and-one — that stupid turnover. But what he did earlier in the game gave him the confidence, gave him the ability, gave him the knowledge that he could do something like that.”
The Beavers caught and passed the Streaks early in the final period. A 3-pointer by Jared Nalepa (8 points) completed a 10-0 run, providing a 65-60 lead. Madison regrouped, and two free throws and a follow by John Dahlhausen (13 points and 8 rebounds despite foul problems) gave it a 71-68 edge at the 5:03 mark. But the Beavers then went on an 11-2 push for a 79-73 lead with 2:50 left.
After the score reached 81-75, an Ortiz follow, two Aaron Petrucelli foul shots and a Dahlhausen follow knotted it, and Brett Monty (13 points, 7 rebounds) hit the second of two free throws for an 82-81 lead with 1:09 to go. However, Jordan Aiken (15 points, six assists) fed Hockman for a layup. Dahlhausen hit a short baseline jumper when his man fell down, providing an 83-82 advantage with 43 seconds on the clock.
Riverside then missed a shot, but with 13.9 seconds left, the Blue Streaks (3-3, 2-2) missed two foul shots, setting up Hockman’s heroics.
The Beavers’ style of play was reminiscent of that of Mentor, May’s alma mater. So was their high shooting percentage (52.5 on 31-of-59). But 28 fouls helped put Madison on the line 41 times, as it converted 28. Also, the Blue Streaks made just 34.2 percent of their shots (26-of-76).
“I don’t think we’re as far (from the quality of Mentor) as people think,” May said. “The difference is Mentor’s a lot smarter than us. And that’s what we preach every single day, and as soon as we become that smart — as soon as we become that disciplined basketball team, we’re going to get close. We’re not going to be as good in one year.”
Madison coach Pat Moran was satisfied that his team matched Riverside’s pace. But despite the number of free throw attempts, he wished his team could have had 65.
“We missed (five) in the final quarter — two of them that could have iced the game, or at least given us a two-point lead” he said.
“You have opportunities, you take a lead, then you get down and then you fight back to take it — you’ve got to learn how preserve it. They forced us into some mistakes.”
Maxx Brubaker had 18 points including three treys, Marc Wadas seven rebounds and three blocks and Brad Rinella scored all 12 of his points and had all four of his steals in the fourth quarter for the Beavers. Rinella dished out four assists.
“Brad Rinella (had) defensive stops and big shots — he finally worked extra on his shot,” May said.” It’s amazing what hard work does for a basketball player.
“It was just top to bottom every single guy doing what they’re supposed to.,
Petrucelli had eight points for Madison.
“Obviously we wanted to get (Ortiz) the ball,” Moran said. “But we needed one more than them. We needed two more (than we scored).”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.