Dragons fall in conference opener
The Savannah Savages edged the Cameron Dragons in their Midland Empire Conference opener 47-42 Thursday night.
Cameron started off hot, jumping out to a 20-7 lead, but fell apart in the second and third quarter as Savannah gained the momentum and eventually the win Tuesday night.
“A couple of guys got in foul trouble that we really count on and needed in the game at that time,” Cameron Coach Cole Doherty said. “Credit to us for getting up 20-7. The guys were knocking down shots, Ian (Riley) knocked down some shots and that’s a credit to him practicing better. You’re seeing it in games. We preach all of the time that you play the way you practice.”
Guard Ian Riley picked up Thursday against Savannah where he left off Tuesday against Excelsior Spring, but instead netting 8 of the Dragons’ last 9 points he opened the game scoring 12 of Cameron’s first 17 - all from the 3-point line.
“It was confidence. I caught fire and didn’t slow down,” said Riley, who scored a team-leading 14 points.
Riley opened the game with a pair of threes, then guard Dylan Brosious hit a layup to take the Cameron’s lead to 8-2. A steal and put-in near the baseline by forward Ty Speer steal off a Savannah defensive rebound made it 10-4, then a put back by Mason Hammond took the lead to 14-7 by the end of the first quarter. Another pair of 3-pointers Riley and guard Nick Helmich gave the Dragons a seemingly insurmountable 20-7 lead by halftime, but Savannah came roaring back thanks to costly turnovers and foul trouble limiting Riley’s production.
“I got those two fouls that held me back … We were pushing too fast. We when do that and they double team, there is always a man open. We just had to slow down and find the open man,” Riley said.
Savannah capitalized off Cameron’s mistakes, especially perimeter passing, forcing fast breaks off costly turnovers and eventually pulled within a point by halftime 20-19 on a 12-0 run. A jumper by forward Byson Speer and another 3-pointer by Helmich could not stop the Savages rally as they eventually took the lead before the fourth quarter. Foul trouble stymied Cameron’s momentum and allowed Savannah some distance as the Dragons entered the bonus. With under a minute left, a pair of Helmich free throws made it a one-possession game, 43-40, but Cameron could not make a crucial 3-pointer to tie with little time on the clock.
“Our guys do a great job of never giving up and fighting to the end,” Doherty said. “We gave ourselves a chance at the end. It was a good shot, it just didn’t fall. We would not have been in that situation if we did some things fundamentally better, but we didn’t. I we can just be a little more coachable as we go along we will be just fine.”
The loss snaps the Dragons’ two-game streak and leaves them looking to regroup ahead of a basketball tournament in Lathrop Monday. Doherty said his team getting better with each game. Should the continue their progress, Doherty feels the Dragons will be quite formidable in the postseason.