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Hawks make their Les Schwab tourney debut

New Orleans' Riverside shakes off a game effort by Southridge on Monday
by: Miles Vance GOING UP — Southridge’s Caleb Herzberg goes up for a layup against Riverside during his team’s first-round loss in the Les Schwab Invitational on Monday.

HILLSBORO - The Southridge boys basketball team is determined to make its first-ever appearance in the Les Schwab Invitational a memorable one.

And while the Skyhawks didn't win their Monday opener, they took some important steps toward achieving memorable.

Southridge kicked off the 2011 LSI at Liberty High School with a first-round match-up against New Orleans' Riverside Academy, the nation's 33rd-ranked team, and trailed by just seven points at halftime before falling 84-61 to the talented Rebels and star Ricardo Gathers.

'We played well, but we got in foul trouble (and) we learned that we can't turn the ball over like that,' said Southridge junior wing Reza Aleaziz, who tied for team-high scoring honors with 12 points and also added two assists and two steals. 'We just take away how valuable the ball is. We can't turn the ball over like that and expect to win games against a nationally ranked team.'

'We had good stretches tonight where we played possessions the whole time and we were talking on defense, but we've got to eliminate all the times we weren't doing that and put a full game together and see what happens,' said junior guard Caleb Dozier, who had six points, four assists and two blocks while handling the ball the majority of the time against the Rebels' pressure.

While it didn't last, the Skyhawks did get it going early against Riverside. After giving up a steal and breakaway dunk to Donald Thomas Jr. on the first possession of the game, Southridge got a Sean McGill free throw, a three-pointer by Aleaziz, and a McGill inside basket on a Dozier assist to lead 6-4.

After a Riverside foul shot, the Skyhawks added a 'three' from Caleb Herzberg, a steal and layup by Kevin McClean, and another Aleaziz three-pointer set up by McClean to grab a 14-7 edge with 4 minutes, 12 seconds to go in the period.

The Rebels responded impressively from there, though, closing the quarter on a 15-6 run that included two three-pointers by Thomas and five straight free throws and a layup by Zelvin Smith to lead 22-20.

Riverside extended that run into the second quarter too, opening with seven straight points highlighted by two Charvon Julien baskets that extended its lead to 29-20.

But Southridge stopped the bleeding momentarily with another Aleaziz 'three,' got another McClean steal and layup, two Justin Calo foul shots, and an Aleaziz layup assisted by Herzberg with 23 seconds left in the half to stay within 35-28.

But Riverside in general, and Gathers in particular, put the game out of reach in the third quarter with a 29-12 scoring edge that extended the Rebel lead to 64-40.

Gathers, a 6-8 senior forward, got things rolling there with a three-pointer, hammered home a huge dunk after a Thomas steal, then added another 'three,' another dunk, a third long bomb and then a foul shot to rack up 14 of his game-high 26 points in a stretch of just 4:29.

'They've got one of the best players in the country, Ricardo Gathers - he's a great player - and we knew that coming in,' Aleaziz said.

While Southridge's deficit was too big to overcome in the fourth quarter, the Skyhawks did put together some nice moments there, including a 7-0 run early in the period, five points from Jeff Schmitt and two late hoops from Dozier.

'The first half, we competed well,' Dozier said. 'Now we've just got to go back to work at practice tomorrow and come back and play well' in the next one.

Herzberg added 12 points in the loss, while McClean hit 4-of-5 shots en route to eight points. Riverside dominated the backboards with an edge of 15, led by Gathers' nine. Thomas added 17 points in the win and Smith 14 for Riverside.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.