Riverside Vikings win league, take home unusual trophy
CARBONDALE – After winning the PEG League eighth-grade boys basketball title on Saturday at Carbondale Middle School, the Riverside squad was in need of a trophy to celebrate its accomplishment.The award, which is reissued each year to the winner, couldn’t be found, however, so it was really fortunate that CMS Principal Cliff Colia found a replacement – a plaque with at fish on it.
It was the only thing he could find in his office remotely like an award, and he figured it was symbolic of the team’s year as “New Castle swam upstream against all odds to an undefeated season.”So now the Vikings have a fish honoring their 7-0 league season and PEG Championship. Overall, Riverside finished with a 14-2 season, only losing to Rifle (twice in an Eagle tournament). The Vikings bounced back from the two losses by beating Rifle in overtime in the league showdown.”I am really happy with how the boys performed this season,” said Riverside coach Joe Bledsoe.By winning league, Riverside received a bye in the first round of the PEG Tournament. In the second round, the Vikings drew Aspen in the bracket for a Dec. 6 showdown.
Even though Riverside was without its point guard Omar Colmon, the Vikings managed to work to a 51-44 victory. Tyler Guettler led the team with 18 points while McCade Cox scored 17. “Everybody stepped up and did a really good job,” Bledsoe said.Ali Belandria, Cole Ryan and Brett Hazard combined to hit 6-of-10 free throws in the final three minutes of the contest to preserve the win.”That really made the difference,” Bledsoe said of the free throws.
The win over Aspen, which took third in the tourney, put Riverside in the championship game against St. Johns on Saturday. The Vikings kept St. Johns guessing with three different defenses – one for each of the first three quarters.”They really did a good job of shutting them down,” Bledsoe said.After the game went into halftime tied at 18, Riverside outscored St. Johns by seven in the third quarter to gain a lead it never lost.On offense, Cox led the way with 16 points, while Guettler added 10 and Colmon chipped in nine.
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