NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge went into Friday night’s Class 5A-District 8 contest against Anclote coming off a four-point loss to Pasco on Thursday and needed a victory heading into the winter break.
Though Anclote held the lead for most of the game, the Royal Knights were able to pick up the defensive intensity and get key baskets from guard Kyle McCoy in an exciting 49-46 win against the Sharks. With the win, River Ridge takes sole possession of third place in 5A-8.
“We came in at halftime, and I told the guys that we turned over the basketball way too many times,” River Ridge coach Chuck Butler said. “(Anclote) came ready to play. We started off slow. The second half, our seniors came together and led us.”
Turnovers were a big problem for River Ridge, especially in the first quarter, as the Royal Knights turned the basketball over nine times and made one of nine shots (11 percent) from the field. Anclote didn’t fare much better in the turnover department, with the Sharks giving away the ball 20 times in the game. By halftime, Anclote was shooting 7-for-26 (27 percent) compared to River Ridge’s 5-for-21 (23 percent).
Anclote (5-7, 5-4) held a 33-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and that’s when River Ridge picked up its defensive play, holding the Sharks to 13 points. McCoy (20 points, six rebounds) hit a key 3-pointer at the 3:38 mark to pull the Royal Knights within 44-40. A layup by Eliseo Sanchez (7 points) gave River Ridge its second lead of the game at 47-46 with 1:34 remaining to help seal the win.
Shy and Ty Carter paced Anclote with 11 and 10 points, respectively. River Ridge center John Childs scored 10 points, had eight rebounds and added three blocks.