Raiders pull away in second half to advance to state title game
The first half of Saturday’s contest between the Southside Tigers and the Keenan Raiders was a close contest between the two squads. The Raiders changed that in the third quarter with a 16–0 run to take control of the game and cruise to a 66–43 blowout to advance to the AA State Championship game.
Bradley Smith led the way for the Raiders with 21 points, and Dennis Rowe helped out with 15 of his own.
Keenan jumped out to a 5–2 lead early on, courtesy of buckets from Bradley Smith and Quinton Johnson and a free throw from Dennis Rowe. Southside came back following a basket from Jakoye Pinson and two from Mario Irby to take an 8–7 lead. Keenan regained the lead with a bucket from Smith.
Again, Keenan extended the lead to as much as three points, but the Tigers fought back with a bucket from Rodney Morton and Jalen Lawrence to regain the lead at 13–12. With less than five seconds left, Rowe hit a bucket to give Keenan a 14–13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Keenan’s Kenny Reed started the quarter with two free throws to extend the lead to 16–13. Lawrence responded with a pair of free throws to shrink the deficit back to one. Reed answered back with a bucket, only to be offset by two free throws from Lawrence to once again bring the Keenan lead back to one point. Following Lawrence’s free throws, Pinson added a bucket to give Southside the lead once more at 19–18. The Raiders took the lead right back with a free throw from Reed and a bucket from Marcus Stroman.
Late in the quarter, Keenan once again held a three point lead, 26–23, before Southside scored the final five points of the quarter, courtesy of a three–pointer from Lawrence and two free throws from Rodney Morton to give Southside a 28–26 lead at halftime.
The Raiders took control of the game in the third quarter. Following a bucket from Irby to give Southside a 30–26 lead, Keenan went on a 16–0 run to take a 42–30 lead. Smith led Keenan with eight points during the run. A bucket from Pinson late in the quarter ended the Keenan run and brought the Southside deficit to ten at 42–32 entering the fourth quarter.
The Raiders proved to have too much firepower for Southside in the final quarter. The Tigers tried to stay in the game but were only able to get one free throw on a possession where Keenan was getting two or three points per possession. The Raiders led 47–34, before the Raiders went on a 15–5 run to put the game away and helping Keenan cruise to a 66-43 win. Keenan’s Bradley Smith gets a layup as JaVaries Barksdale tries to draw a charge.