Riverview boys play spoiler against Springdale
Staring at a winless section season, Riverview put it all together Friday and spoiled rival Springdale's playoff hopes.
The Raiders, behind Nico Sero's 29 points, posted a 59-51 victory over the Dynamos at a packed Donald McGhee Fieldhouse.
Springdale (9-9, 4-8) had designs on the 33rd WPIAL playoff trip in school history, but the Raiders made a number of key plays in the fourth quarter.
“We've been close a number of times,” Riverview coach Paul Sapotichne said. “Whoever we were against, we deserved to get a win tonight. The kids still believe. The kids still work hard in practice. Tonight, defensively and offensively, they executed what we wanted to do.”
It was another memorable night for Sero. He became the leading scorer in school history with a pair of foul shots with 1 minute, 57 seconds to go in the second period. It broke Ben Erdeljac's mark of 1,317 points from 1993-97.
“It's an amazing feeling. I was glad I had my family and friends here tonight,” Sera said. “We've been so close to winning a lot of games. We finally played a complete game.”
Sero has 1,339 career points with two nonsection games remaining.
Riverview finished the section at 1-11 and is 5-15 overall.
In a key play with Riverview clinging to a 44-43 lead, Noah Black hid a fadeaway 3-pointer from the corner and was fouled. He made the free throw for a rare, four-point play with 3:20 to go.
“Something I try to avoid doing is ever saying one particular play was why the game resulted the way it did,” Dynamos coach Seth Thompson said. “However, that certainly was one that was probably a little more magnified. Suddenly, it was 48-43.”
A steal by Seamus O'Brien and a basket by Seo made it 50-43 Raiders.
The Raiders also bottled up Springdale standout Sammy Carey, double-teaming the Dynamos senior, often moving Carey away from the basket. Carey was limited to two points over the first three quarters.
“He hurt us last year twice,” Sapotichne said of Carey. “We tried to play him tough in the other game this year, but we got out of it early. He's a tough matchup because of his size, plus he's a very good player.“
Sophomore Mike Zolnierczyk picked up the scoring slack for Springdale with 12 points, 10 in the fourth period, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers.
Springdale still had a shot, down by four in the final minute. But a steal by Patrick Scott and a basket by Sero gave the Raiders a 57-51 advantage with 18.9 seconds left.
Ben Blacksmith, playing despite a foot injury, hit a 3-pointer with 5:13 left in the first half to give Riverview the lead for good.
The Raiders went up by 10 points four times, but Springdale came scrambling back.
Carey converted a three-point play with 2:02 to go, minutes after he crashed through three Raiders to get to the basket and draw a foul.
“Riverview played a great game,” Thompson said. “I told our players to give credit where credit's due. We played awful, and we played awful because they made us play that way.”
Black scored 13 points for Riverview, including four 3-pointers.
George Guido is a freelance writer.