Reavis closes on Richards in SSC Red
Updated: March 23, 2011 9:32AM
When a blizzard nearly brought everyone to a standstill this week, the Reavis basketball players remained focused on their assignment of getting ready to play rival Richards.
"It was bad outside, but we didn't miss any practices," senior guard Anthony Gill said. "We had to beat Richards to stay in the conference race."
Reavis accomplished its mission, earning a well-deserved 57-48 South Suburban Red decision Friday night in Burbank. As a result, the Rams (14-5, 6-4) are now just one game behind league leader Richards (8-12, 7-3).
"Winning the conference means a lot to us," said Reavis forward Michael Jerkovich, who scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
"We knew it would be a physical game and it was. There were bodies flying all over the place. But we were patient, especially in the fourth quarter."
Reavis, which led 11-9, 27-18 and 40-33 at the quarter breaks, played a near-perfect final eight minutes against a desperate Richards squad.
While the visiting Bulldogs were launching shots from all directions and trying to force turnovers with a full-court press, Reavis killed the clock with good ball control and clutch free-throw shooting (making 13-of-17, 25-of-33 for the game). The Rams needed just 32 shots to make 15 baskets. Richards was 18-of-52 from the field.
"They put all kinds of pressure on us, but we didn't break," Gill said. "We played good defense and made our free throws. We earned this victory."
"Coach (Jeff Smith) makes us run when we don't make our free throws during practice," Jerkovich chimed in. "We didn't a lot of bad shots and worked hard around the basket to get layups."
Jerkovich was joined at 15 points by Taha Ghouleh, who added five rebounds. Fadi Abuzir totaled 13 points and eight rebounds, while Jose Lopez got all eight of his points on perfect free-throw accuracy, including six in the final quarter.
"When we've played Richards in the past, turnovers have hurt us," Smith said. "But we have tougher kids this season. They didn't panic and took care of the ball."
Richards coach John Chappetto, who got 12 points each from Dominique Gaddis and Josh Freeman, directed deserving praise to the Rams.
"They outhustled and outplayed us," Chappetto said. "We didn't play good transition basketball. That's been the story of our season."