NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge (2-1) used a big third quarter and key free throw shooting down the stretch to defeat Nature Coast (2-1) 40-33 Saturday in the championship game of the Beef O'Brady's Thanksgiving Classic hosted by River Ridge.
"We played with a purpose tonight," Royal Knights coach John Sedlack said. "Historically, since I have been here, the third quarter has been weak for us. So far this year we have played very well in the third quarter, and we rebounded well and played great defense to win tonight."
In the first half, points between the Knights and Sharks were at a minimum. At halftime the game was tied at 11.
But the third quarter belong to River Ridge, as it outscored Nature Coast 16-8. The Knights limited All-tournament selection Mike Adams — the Sharks' leading scorer on Friday night with 15 points — to four points and a 2-for-16 shooting effort from the field. Cody Bagamary led River Ridge with 12 points.
Knights guard Marco Custodio (eight points) nailed 4 of 5 free throws in a third-quarter sequence, after Sharks forward Tevin Drake was hit with a technical foul after fouling Custodio on a three-point shot and arguing with an official.
In the fourth quarter River Ridge was in a similar position as the night before, at the line down the stretch. The Knights hit key free throws (10-for-15 for the game) in the final minutes to clinch the tournament title.
"The third quarter was really big for us, and to win the tournament on our home court tonight was really great," Custodio said.
Northside Christian (1-2) beat Clearwater Central Catholic (1-2) 62-59 in the third-place game. All-tournament team selection Daniel Neymour led the Mustangs with 13 points in the victory over the Marauders.