Emma Vargas, Correspondent (@EmmaVargas on Twitter)
Tallahassee, FLA. (franchisesportsonline.net) – Rickards put an end to Godby’s 20-game win streak, giving the Cougars their first loss of the season with a 66-54 victory in front of the Raiders’ rowdy home crowd.
Alic Troutman scored a game-high 25 points for the Raiders (17-5), including a few rim-rocking dunks that ignited the crowd. “It felt good to give Godby their first loss,” Troutman said. “I’m glad it was us and not anybody else.”
Troutman is just a sophomore, and as great as he played against Godby, the 6-foot-6 big man could get even better with more experience. “Alic is growing up,” Rickards coach Eli Bryant said. “The kid turned 16 on Tuesday. He’s never played in front of this many people in his life.”
Godby (20-1) tied the game 46-46 with a 3-pointer by Trey Jones, equaling Rickards score for the first time since 2:39 left in the second quarter. The Cougars tried to amp up the pressure with a full court press after the basket. Rickards had no trouble breaking it, and Troutman slammed it home at the other end with an emphatic dunk.
Back-to-back free throw opportunities, and a 3-pointer from Vincent McCray put the Raiders back in the driver seat. Then they put the pedal to the metal closing the game out on a 13-2 run.
Rickards held Godby to only 37.7% from the field, forcing the Cougars into taking long-range jumpers. “The biggest key was keeping them from making layups,” Bryant said.
“They live off layups. They don’t make outside shots. Make them shoot the basketball and keep them out the lane.”
A lot of that had to do with limiting Godby center Corbin Merritt, who had 22 points in Godby’s 66-57 victory over Rickards January 6th. Merritt had just six points on this night.
When Godby was able to make their layups, they kept the game close. The Cougars scored four unanswered layups over a two-minute stretch in the second quarter, taking a 25-24 lead. However, this potential turning point was short-lived and ended with Troutman’s first dunk of the night.
“Rickards deserved to win,” Godby head coach Andy Colville said. “They played better than us tonight . . . But it’s hard to win on the road, especially against a team as good as Rickards.”
Colville experienced a perfect season with the Cougars two years ago. 20 games into this season it looked like this team might have been poised for another, but Rickards had other plans. Sometimes a loss can galvanize a team or demoralize a team. What happens with Godby remains to be seen, but Colville is no fan of moral victories.
“People always talk about losing a game is good, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Tonight showed us there is some room to improve, but they’ll be ready Tuesday.”
Godby will have to shake off the dust and get ready for Leon Tuesday night at 7pm. Rickards will try to ride their momentum when they host Lincoln Wednesday at 7pm.