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8A: Sarasota Riverview Slips into Finals

February 26, 2016
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8A: Sarasota Riverview Slips into Finals

A.J. Caldwell converted a three-point play for the first points in overtime with 1:03 to play, and No. 1 Sarasota Riverview held on for a 64-63 win over South Miami on Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the FHSAA Class 8A Boys Basketball State Championships at The Lakeland Center.

The Rams (29-1) will play No. 9 Coral Springs in the final at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Riverview didn’t clinch the game against South Miami until Ezacaras Dawson III’s off-balance shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim. South Miami had the ball for that last possession after an errant pass went out of bounds with 5.8 seconds left as the Rams were trying to foul.

After a timeout, the Cobras inbounded to Dawson who dribbled across the lane and briefly lost control of the ball before forcing up a last-second shot.

It was a back-and-forth game. South Miami, which jumped out to a 9-0 lead, led 34-27 at halftime but struggled in the third quarter. Riverview came out with a 1-3-1 trap and held the Cobras to just one field goal in the quarter.

“That was something we worked on a lot,” Riverview coach B.J. Ivey said. “We didn’t come out with it. We wanted to come out and play man like we’ve been doing, but we kind of felt like that was a good defense to combat the way they wanted to play.”

The Rams began the third quarter with a 10-1 run to take the lead and outscored the Cobras 17-7 in the quarter to lead 44-41.

Bennie Small hit a 3-pointer to tie the score to start the fourth quarter and there were five lead changes in the final eight minutes of regulation.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” South Miami coach Robert Doctor said. “At the end, we had the chance twice to win the game and to tie it. I can’t ask for anything more four our kids. We just fell short.”

Trailing 55-53, Riverview took the lead on five points by Caldwell, who finished with 16 points. Dawson, who scored 32 points to lead all scorers, answered with a layup. After a free throw by D.J. Bryant, Dawson tied the score with 1:04 to play.

Brion Whitley led Riverview with 24 points, and Bryant had 17 points.

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