‘Holiday Road’ Proves Bumpy for Richard Winn

Reid Johnson, a senior forward, puts up a soft touch floater over the Newberry opponent from inside the paint.

While the majority of Richard Winn’s students dismissed for the Christmas holidays on Dec. 19 following three days of semester exams, the varsity basketball players enjoyed a limited break from the campus as they took part in two holiday tournaments during the two week vacation.

The Eagles hosted their first Holiday Hoops tournament action prior to Christmas and then traveled to Newberry to take part in Newberry Academy’s Sonic Shoot Out on the weekend following Christmas. The end result was a record of 1-3 in the four non-region games played.

Richard Winn faced Newberry in round one of their own tournament, and although they’d already lost twice to them earlier in the season, the home team gave the visiting Newberry Eagles a run for their money, losing by a narrow one-point margin. RWA trailed 43-41 with under a minute remaining in the game. Fouled with 31 seconds left, senior Reid Johnson made one of his two free throws to narrow the margin to one. Then Newberry committed a turnover with 21 seconds remaining, and the home Eagles took the ball down court. Logan Gibbons muscled his way inside to score and capitalize on the visiting Eagles’ mistake, putting RWA up by one. With a fired-up crowd and seemingly an upset in the making, the Newberry squad wasted no time in moving the ball down court to score and regain the lead with less than three seconds on the clock. RWA passed the ball down court, and Johnson got off a rushed shot with a Newberry defender applying heavy pressure. Unfortunately for the home team, no foul was called and the ball bounced off the rim as the final buzzer went off. Gibbons led the home team’s scoring with 15 points and Johnson added 12. Patrick Pope knocked down three 3-pointers for a nine point total, and Cameron Cooper contributed five points. Joseph Goldin scored two points and Jason Branham added a free throw.

Round two of the tournament the next day pitted the Eagles against the Catawba Indians in the consolation match while Newberry and Ben Lippen’s boys advanced to the championship game later that day. Both teams started off with a hot hand and scored 22 (RW) and 27(Catawba) points in the opening quarter. The Indians, however, began to widen the gap during the second quarter and took a 15 point lead into the locker room at half time, 49-34. The second half was ugly for the Eagles and appeared that the “wheels had fallen off” when the Eagle offense could only manage 18 points more in the entire second half while allowing their opponents to post 45 points more. The Indians captured the 94-52 victory in the consolation bracket while Ben Lippen’s boys claimed the tournament championship title over Newberry. Cooper led the RWA offense with 13 points and L. Gibbons added 11. Pope had eight points, Johnson six, Corey Davis five, Branham three and Goldin, Mason Gibbons and Gunnar Hensley added two points each. Logan Gibbons was named to the All-Tournament team.

RWA was matched up against Newberry for the fourth time this season in the first round of the Sonic Shoot Out Holiday Tournament. After having come so close to upsetting the Newberry team just the weekend prior, both teams prepared to do battle again, RWA hoping to come out the victor this time. The two teams were fairly evenly matched during the first half with RWA trailing by one at the end of the first quarter and 10 at the half, 33-23. However, it just wasn’t in the cards for the Richard Winn team. A lackluster third quarter for the RWA offense managed to produce only five points to Newberry’s 18 points. Newberry picked up the tempo in the second half of play and cruised on to 65-39 victory. Pope was the only RWA Eagle to post double digits with 10 points. The rest of the scoring came from the following eight Eagle teammates: L. Gibbons -7, Goldin – 6, M. Gibbons – 5, John Coleman – 4, Branham – 2, Mitchell Gibbons – 2, Davis – 2, and Johnson – 1.

In the second round of play the Eagles faced the King Knights. Coach Joe Pitt’s Eagles, having shown recent signs of inconsistency and frustration, stepped up their game and notched their first W of the holiday tournament action with a 60-46 victory over the Knights. Leading the RWA scoring column was Logan Gibbons with 20 points. Pope followed with 12, Mason Gibbons added eight, while Hensley and Cooper contributed six points apiece. Johnson had four, Branham two, and Goldin and Coleman each hit a free throw.

The Eagles will resume game action on tonight (Jan. 4) when they host region foe Spartanburg Day School. Their game will climax the four games of the day with the middle school teams playing ahead of the varsity teams. The varsity boys will tip off at approximately 8 p.m.