GREENVILLE — Midway through the second quarter of the Region 1B boys basketball game Tuesday night, the Gladiators found themselves locked in a 16-16 tie with visiting Franklin.
But Riverheads then went to its big guns, Adam Painter and Zach Adams, who each hit a pair of threes in the quarter, to silence the Broncos with a 14-1 run and go into the locker room holding a commanding 30-17 lead.
That burst was plenty for the 55-42 victory as the visitors matched the Gladiators point for point in the second half, with each team tallying 25, but could never overcome the halftime deficit.
“They did a good job of stepping up and hitting the big shots,” said Riverheads coach Chad Coffey of his team. “But those shots came as a result of their good inside work.”
Franklin did hit the first bucket of the second half when Bryan Powell slipped inside for a layup. The Gladiators answered with a three-pointer and a short jumper from Grant Painter to extend the lead. Elijah Dunlap then fed Adam Painter the ball on a fast break for another two.
Powell finally answered with another inside move, but Adam Painter canned yet another three to send the home team up 40-21 with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Broncos outpaced the Gladiators 6-2 the rest of the period, but Riverheads still held a commanding 42-27 lead at the end of the third quarter.
A desperate Franklin sent the Gladiators to the foul line frequently in the final period. So much so that Riverheads chalked up more points (7) from the charity stripe in the period than they did from field goals (6). Of those field goals, Adam Painter hit one from inside and a short jumper, and Ryan Farris dropped in one from the inside to lead the Gladiators to a 55-42 victory.
“Collectively we did a good job defensively,” Coffey said. “And we did a good job of taking care of the ball. We are a position-based team. We can set up and take charges and make steals that give us some chances.”
For the evening, Gladiator Adam Painter led all scorers with 21, while Grant Painter had 17. Powell had 12 for the Broncos.
Riverheads is back in action again Thursday in the regional semifinals. The Gladiators host Carver Academy, who beat Rappahannock County Tuesday. A victory Thursday will give Riverheads a berth in the state tournament.
“Our goal from the beginning of the season has been to be at home and play in our own gym as much as possible this time of year,” the Riverheads coach added.
“Our other goal has been to be playing in March. We have done what we need to do to be there and if we do well Thursday then we will be playing in March,” he said.