By ANDY WOLF
DOLA — Riverdale finally got the proverbial monkey off its back.
It was either going to be them or Hardin Northern.
The Falcons met the similarly winless Polar Bears on Wednesday night and delivered them a 83-33 nonleague loss to earn their first victory of the season.
“We’ve battled a couple close ones,” Riverdale coach Craig Taylor said. “To be able to finish at the end, I’m happy for the guys.
“They haven’t quit on me. They’ve continued to work extremely hard.”
Riverdale improved to 1-8 overall while Hardin Northern fell to 0-7.
Riverdale junior Alec Loveridge recorded game-highs of 26 points and nine rebounds while sophomore point guard Logan Frey turned in 14 points, six rebounds and six steals.
“The team, outside of here, is working hard. We were all busting our butts, hoping for that first win,” Frey said. “Just getting it felt awesome.”
Five of Riverdale’s eight losses have been by nine points or fewer while being within a possession at some point in the second half in each of them.
“Every time we lose, we’d lose by four, eight (points),” Frey said. “That just made us come back to practice the next day and work even harder, get them extra reps, stay after practice. (We) Finally got that win.”
Because of that, Frey knew they couldn’t take it easy on the Polar Bears.
The Falcons never trailed at any point, seizing every extra opportunity to extend their lead.
They did so by forcing 25 steals and grabbing 19 offensive rebounds.
All five starters had at least two offensive rebounds and one steal.
“Yesterday, all practice we were working on defense,” Frey said. “We knew today we had to come in: ‘defense, defense.’ Defense wins games and that’s what we had to do.”
Hardin Northern coach Jared Thomas said Logan Lease, one of the Polar Bears’ two lone returning letterwinners, “has not been in the lineup for quite some time and don’t expect him back any time soon due to some team infractions.”
Thomas wanted to see his team get off to a good start in stopping the basketball — an area where they’ve struggled all season — and hold Riverdale to 10 points or fewer in the first quarter.
Loveridge scored nine points in helping the Falcons take a 16-7 first-quarter edge before Frey made three of his steals in an equally big second quarter to extend the lead to 34-18 at the half.
Frey’s last two steals of the second quarter came in the final minute and resulted in him scoring coast-to-coast buckets.
The Falcons had 13 steals and 12 offensive rebounds by halftime.
Those extra opportunities led to them taking 37 shots in the first half, making 14, to Hardin Northern’s 20.
“That’s where you see the youth versus the older age or at least where the intensity is,” Thomas said. “They’re able to pressure us to where we don’t want that physicality. A lot of our shots are being taken off balance or we need to shorten passing lanes. We can’t engage on the offensive end.”
With their foot still on the gas, Riverdale added nine more steals to outscore Hardin Northern 37-9 in the third quarter, including a 16-0 run at one point.
“We told them at halftime, first five minutes of the (quarter) was either going to be a 10-point game,” Taylor said. “They were going to claw back in or we were going to find the accelerator and push it. Luckily, we pulled away.”
Coby Miller chipped in 13 points and five steals for Riverdale. Jonathan Walter added seven points and four steals.
Hardin Northern endured 34 turnovers in what Thomas noted was a typical night.
“We’ve been 20-plus turnover per game,” Thomas said. “That’s just a matter of increasing our skill. Some of it is youth and inexperience.
“You can’t have (34) turnovers in a high school basketball game.”
Owen Wetherill led Hardin Northern with nine points, while Nick Adams and Lance Good each had six points and three rebounds.
Miller 5-1–13, Morris 2-1–5, Loveridge 12-1–26, Mason 1-0–3, Price 2-0–5, Frey 6-1–14, Vent 2-0–4, Walter 2-3–7, Davis 3-0–6. TOTALS: 34-70 7-13–83.
HARDIN NORTHERN (0-7)
Wilmoth 1-0–2, Wetherill 4-0–9, Adams 2-2–6, Pees 1-2–4, Joliff 1-2–4, Cooper 1-0–2, Good 3-0–6. TOTALS: 13-37 6-6–33.
Riverdale 16 34 37 12 — 83
Hardin Northern 7 12 9 6 — 33
3-Point GOALS: Riverdale 6-18 (Miller 2, Loveridge, Mason, Price & Frey); Hardin Northern 1-9 (Wetherill).
rebounds: Riverdale 38 (Loveridge 9); Hardin Northern 20 (Wilmoth, Good, Adams & Cooper 3).
turnovers: Riverdale 16; Hardin Northern 34.
junior varsity: Riverdale, 51-45 OT.
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