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Cinderella run ends for Porters Chapel

[2/12/04]GREENVILLE The circus shots stopped falling. The rebounding was nonexistent. The legs grew weary.

And as Porters Chapel Academy’s game against Riverdale wore on Wednesday night, the Eagles looked less like a Cinderella team and more like just another tired, overmatched and finished one.

All five Riverdale starters scored at least nine points, and the Rebels closed the game with a 12-0 run to beat PCA 68-47 in the second round of the Academy-A South State tournament.

Kyle Norred led Riverdale (16-12) with 17 points and eight rebounds, Joedy Wiggins had 15 points, and David Coffey added 13 points and nine rebounds. David Perkins also had 10 points and seven steals for the Rebels, who outrebounded PCA 29-19 and committed only three turnovers in the second half.

“We came over and watched them on Monday. We knew what they were running, and we just couldn’t stop it. We knew exactly what they were doing every time, and we couldn’t stop it,” said PCA point guard Chip Lofton, who led his team with 22 points, five rebounds and three steals. “We just couldn’t rebound. They were boxing out and we weren’t playing hard. They wanted it more than we did.”

Dan Ivey added nine points and Allen Cassell had eight for PCA, which finished its season with a 15-15 record. That was an improvement on last year, and the Eagles reached the South State tournament for the first time since 1999. Those accomplishments lessened the blow of coming one game short of reaching the state tournament for the first time since 1997.

“I told our guys to keep our heads up. Nobody expected us to get out of our district tournament because it hadn’t happened in so long. They have a lot to be proud of,” PCA coach Kevin Griffin said. “Last year and this year they have set the steppingstones for our program, and I think it’s on the rise.

“We’ve got a great group coming back and a good junior high group moving up.”

The Eagles started strong, but faded toward the end of the first half. Perkins converted a three-point play with 23 seconds to go in the first half to cap a 10-3 Riverdale run and give the Rebels a 31-29 lead at halftime.

Lofton hit a layup for the first points of the second half, but PCA never led or tied after that. Perkins came up with three steals in the first two minutes of the third quarter and Riverdale went on a 6-0 run to take the lead for good.

“We basically stayed with the same game plan. We knew that they’d hit some shots early in the first half,” Riverdale coach Rusty Ward said. “We just got our offense running a little bit. Some shots were falling for us, and they were missing some shots and we were cleaning up. We weren’t giving them second chances.”

Riverdale stretched the lead to double digits near the end of the third quarter before Lofton hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute to bring the Eagles within five, 46-41. Riverdale answered with another run, though, and led 54-43 with 4:31 to play.

“Good teams answer runs. We made our little run and cut it to about six points, and they answered,” Griffin said. “They’re very well-coached, and he called timeouts at the right time and challenged his guys to answer our run, and that’s what they did.”