UMATILLA - In a clash of Class 3A titans Friday, the 10th-ranked Umatilla Vikings hosted the third-ranked Riverside Pirates in a game that will go a long way toward determining the Eastern Oregon League champion.
After falling behind 18-6 in the first quarter the Pirates were able to kick it up a notch and avoid their second straight loss with a thrilling 51-47 victory in the league opener for both teams.
"We were out of sync," Riverside coach Clair Costello said. "We've been out of sync for two games... We're just not making the extra pass. We're not seeing the floor very well."
The Pirates (11-1, 1-0 EOL) struggled early but seemed to get things going in their favor after pulling within 27-24 at the half.
"We just started playing team ball," Pirates' senior Anthony Calvillo said. "Rotating the ball, hitting the guy down low, hit the open guy that's on the corner, and that's pretty much it."
Still, the Vikings (9-4, 0-1 EOL) led until 4:25 left in the game when Pirates junior Bryce Doherty took a pass from Calvillo in the post and put it in to tie the game at 43.
Then, following a Umatilla turnover, Calvillo was sent to the line to shoot 1-and-1 when Umatilla junior Kyle Murphy was whistled for his fifth foul.
Calvillo made his first but missed his second. However, the damage had been done and the Pirates took the lead at 44-43 and held it for the remaining 3:55.
"The second half, we started making the extra pass and (Calvillo) was really strong underneath and (Eric) Yoder shot the ball fairly well, but not as well as he should be," Costello said. "We just did a lot of stupid things offensively. ... Defensively is what won the game, I thought, for us. We played well defensively throughout the game."
The Pirates held the Vikings scorless for a 4:48 streak during the fourth quarter, during which the they were able to extend their lead to 50-43.
"Offensively we just stopped moving and because we stopped moving, we didn't attack the basket," Umatilla coach Tony Villanueva said.
Umatilla pulled within one score when sophomore Nathan Creason grabbed an offensive board and put it in to make it 50-47 with 10.3 seconds left, but with the Vikings forced to foul, Doherty sank the second of two bonus shots to ice the win with 8.9 seconds left.
"We have that in our minds now that we can come back," Calvillo said. "But we just need to try to stay ahead the whole game. We don't want to be in that situation again."
"I didn't think they beat us," Villanueva said. "I thought we beat ourselves. We didn't take care of the basketball. That hurts. We had a defensive breakdown in the second half that opened up some scoring for them that should never happened because we work all week on it."
Yoder led all scorers with 17 points while converting on three 3-pointers in the game.
Calvillo also turned in a well-rounded effort with 13 points, seven rebounds and six steals.
The Pirates' leading rebounder and primary ball-handler in the game, senior Robert Turner, went down with a twisted ankle after landing awkwardly on a Umatilla player's foot.
"Turner sprained his ankle pretty bad, so he won't be able to play tomorrow," Costello said. "I've looked at (the ankle) and it's pretty well swollen."
Turner had eight rebounds while adding five steals, but could only manage two points.
Sophomore Steve Williams led the Vikings with 13 points, nine of them coming from behind the arc.
"A lot of the guys are taking (the loss) hard because we had a good lead and started not doing what the coach wanted and we gave it away," Williams said. "We needed to beat (Riverside) to put ourselves in the driver seat to get a league title. We have to win out and we got to beat them at their place and then win the rest of our games and then beat them in another playoff game to take the league title."
RIVERSIDE 6 18 11 16 - 51
UMATILLA 18 9 12 8 - 47
RIVERSIDE - Eric Yoder 17, Robert Turner 2, Trevor Riekkola, Bryce Doherty 13, JC Norling, Tyler Beckley 6, Anthony Calvillo 13, Clay Callow.
UMATILLA - Levi Russell 6, Steve Williams 13, Fernando Gonzalez 4, Lee Bursell 5, Irving Macias 6, Kyle Murphy 7, Nathan Creason 4.
3-point field goals - Riverside 3, Umatilla 5. Free throws - Riverside 14-24, Umatilla 4-11. Fouls - Riverside 16, Umatilla 22. Fouled out - Murphy (Umatilla).