Riverbend’s Kameron Hill (right) blocks a shot by Brooke Point’s Kobe Butler in the Bears’ home win on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015.

With a 20-point lead at the half, it appeared Riverbend was well on its way to an easy victory over visiting Brooke Point on Friday night.

Using an aggressive, pressing defense that forced 10 turnovers and limited the Black–Hawks to just three field goals in the first two quarters, coach Eric Davis’ squad built a 31–11 advantage at the break.

But Davis has been around too long to get overly comfortable with a big lead, especially against the Black–Hawks, who lost to his team by just four points earlier this season.

“I told our guys at halftime that good teams are going to make a run, and they did,” said Davis after the Bears hung on for a thrilling 52–50 nonconference victory.

Riverbend converted just 23 of 40 shots from the free-throw line in the game, but made good on 8 of 10 in the final four minutes to survive a major comeback by Brooke Point in the second half.

Sophomore guard Ceeja Beckett, who has been a standout for the Bears in their 7–3 start this season, came up big at clutch time to lead the way.

Beckett drained a pull-up jumper with 1:12 remaining to put Riverbend up by three points, 49–46, after Brooke Point (3–9) had rallied to tie the score in the closing minutes.

With six seconds left, junior Marquis Wooten scored on a putback to pull Brooke Point to within 51–50, but Beckett came up big again to seal the win with another free throw.

“I felt the pressure on those free throws, but I was able to stay with it and make them,” said Beckett, who

led the Bears with 13 points. “We knew we had to come out with a lot of energy tonight.”

That burst of energy paid big dividends for Riverbend in the first half, when it took advantage of the Black–Hawks’ cold shooting spell.

Beckett, senior Zach Sims (nine points) and sophomore Sultan Hameen (11) helped spark Riverbend’s early surge with their aggressive play on both ends of the court.

Hameen’s 3-pointer from the right side at the start of the second quarter ignited a 22–8 scoring run to close out the first half.

But Brooke Point is an athletic team that showed its mettle in the final two quarters.

Led by the play of Wooten, who finished with a game-high 18 points and eight rebounds, the Black–Hawks responded to coach Joe Kania’s constant urging to keep working and applying pressure.

They nearly got the job done, outscoring their hosts 39–21 in the second half before coming up short in the final minutes. Wooten scored 16 of his points in the second half. Six-foot-four Zach Sullivan also gave them a big lift off the bench.

Both teams return to action on Saturday. Riverbend visits Essex, while Brooke Point travels to Lexington to play Lord Botetourt in the Rockingham County Shootout.

Brooke Point           3       8      21      18      —      50
Riverbend 9 22 9 12 52


Brooke Point (3–9): Kalyn Bentley 0, Anthony Bullock 5, Kobe Butler 6, Xamari Caldwell 0, Branden Chandler 3, Reggie Collins 5, Isaac Jones 0, Dereke Kellogg 0, Jaylen Lewis 2, Ryan Poole 2, Zach Sullivan 6, Julian Swinton 3, Marquis Wooten 18. Totals: 15 20-32 50.

Riverbend (7–3): Ceeja Beckett 13, Sultan Hameen 11, Kameron Hill 4, Logan Hinnant 0, Justin Jones 2, Ajay Rollins 3, Zach Sims 9, Anderson Small 4, Bryce Webb 6, Matt Young 0. Totals: 13 23-40 52.

Three-point goals: Brooke Point 0. Riverbend 3 (C. Beckett, S. Hameen, A. Rollins).

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Steve Franzello: sfranzello@freelancestar.com

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