Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Back from the Brink | Rams Headed to State Final 4 after Thrilling Win against Vero Beach

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Back from the Brink | Rams Headed to State Final 4 after Thrilling Win against Vero Beach

Article excerpt

BOYS BASKETBALL: CLASS 8A-REGION 2 FINAL

SARASOTA -- In just a little more than 10 minutes, an 18-point lead turned into a 7-point deficit thanks to an incredible run by Vero Beach.

One of the most successful seasons in Riverview High boys basketball history was on the brink of destruction.

Rams coach BJ Ivey requested a timeout to emphasize a point.

"Just believe. Believe in the process. Believe in each other. Stick together," Ivey said. "We talked about family when adversity hits, you tighten up more than ever. We told them to believe they would make the run. Believe they would make the run. And they did."

With Brion Whitley leading the way, Riverview scored the final seven points of the game to snatch a 74-69 victory from the Indians in the Class 8A-Region 2 final Friday night in front of a frenzied crowd at the Rams gym.

Riverview (28-2) is going to the Final 4 for the second time in program history, first since 1993.

The Rams play District 15 runner-up South Miami, a 74-72 winner over Pembroke Pines Flanagan in an 8A state semifinal at 2 p.m. Friday at The Lakeland Center. The Class 8A State Final is set for 7 p.m. Saturday.

A steal and layup by Dom Caldwell put the Rams up 46-28 one minute, 32 seconds into the third quarter, and Vero Beach (25-4) appeared to have lost its drive.

"We knew Vero Beach is an incredible team, and we knew they would make a run," Ivey said. "We knew in the second half they would come out swinging and make a run."

The Indians made a run, all right. Down 49-32, they went on a 30- 4 spurt, including streaks of 11 and 10 straight, to take a 65-58 lead, their first since 14-13.

"Honestly, it's nerve-racking. You want to feel confident. We just kept fighting," Whitley said. "We didn't want to let our foot off the gas. We just wanted to keep going and playing hard. That's the thing, when they got back in it we were upset about that. …

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