QUINCY, W.Va. -- Riverside faced a tall task Thursday night even before it learned hours before a matchup with state-ranked Woodrow Wilson that it would be doing so without its coaching staff.The Flying Eagles hit 11 of their first 16 shots, including six 3-pointers, in winning their 10th straight with an efficient 88-45 victory over the host Warriors. A crowd of about 300 attended the Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup.Riverside second-year coach Dusty Herscher and assistant James Kelly were suspended indefinitely this week and missed Thursday's game. Scott Garretson, Riverside's girls basketball head coach who has also helped out with the boys squad during the three-week approved practice period last summer, served as the interim coach, assisted by Danny Hill, a former Warriors boys head coach and football assistant."I was glad to help out,'' said Garretson. "I wanted to help any way I could. I'll stay here as long as they need me to. I don't know any of the details. I'm just here to do what I can to help. To be honest, I just found out [Wednesday] night. I was preparing for our girls game [against Cabell Midland]. There was no practice time or anything like that."Pretty much stepped on the court tonight and there we were. I told [our players] to accept it and use it as a motivator and try to make the most of the situation. I thought they were motivated and ready to play. They seemed to be looking forward to it. They accepted it as a challenge. I don't even know if it was a distraction to them. I think they were just ready to play ball.''Riverside Principal Valery Harper would not elaborate on the reason for the suspension of Herscher and his staff or the likelihood of how long the suspension would last. Even though the reason for the suspensions has not been made public, Harper acknowledged that Riverside's Jan. 30 home game victory against Parkersburg has been forfeited for use of an ineligible player. (See story, Page 1B).Before Thursday's game, members of the media were instructed by Harper to not interview coaches, players or parents before the game. A Gazette reporter was escorted to the scorer's table by another administrator. After the game, members of the media were required to wait until a school administrator brought Garretson out and no players were made available for comment.It seemed as if Riverside (7-13) was settling into the game when freshman Quan Brock made two free-throw attempts for a 4-2 deficit with 6:55 remaining in the opening quarter. The Flying Eagles, though, ripped off 17 straight points behind four 3s, the last two back-to-back shots from senior Andrew Johnson, for a 24-3 advantage with 2:32 left in first quarter.Woodrow finished with a 29-9 edge after the first period and the rout was on. The Warriors played nearly even with the Flying Eagles in the second quarter (19-17) but ended the half down 22 points (48-26). Woodrow finished the first half shooting 59.4 percent, including 8 of 11 from long range.
"Woodrow's a good team,'' Garretson said. "They were shooting lights out. I haven't seen a team shoot like that in a long time. I think it was mainly what [Woodrow Wilson] was doing.''If there was any question as to whether the Flying Eagles would keep their focus, those were quickly laid to rest in the third period as they scored the first nine points for a 57-26 edge.Woodrow junior Chase Hancock turned in 18 points, 14 rebounds and five steals and junior Donte Nabors chipped in 15 points, six boards, three assists and four steals and Johnson finished with 14 points and seven assists. Flying Eagles freshman Nequan Carrington pitched in 14 points and eight rebounds and sophomore Brent Osborne had 13 points.The Eagles (14-4) wrapped up the MSAC East Division title with a 5-1 record in their final division game, securing a spot in the conference championship game during the Night of Champions on Feb. 16 at the South Charleston Community Center. Woodrow has moved up from No. 10 to No. 3 in the state Class AAA poll during its victory binge."We've been playing in spurts like that,'' said Woodrow coach Ron Kidd. "We've just got to put it together. I thought [against Riverside] we kind of did a little bit better. We've been coming together as a team. I was a little worried how our kids were going to play. I can't ever read how our kids are going to play.''Riverside junior Tyus Wood led the effort with 10 points and four rebounds.
Kidd said he can relate to what Herscher and his staff are going through. Kidd said he was suspended two games a few years ago for making a trip to WVU Tech to practice."Hopefully they'll get things worked out,'' Kidd said. "They've got a young coaching staff and I like their coaching staff. I think those guys work hard.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.