STORY BY CHRIS BROOKS, photos by TRICIA DAVENPORT
BOLIVAR — In their previous two meetings this season, the Wolverines of Bolivar-Richburg were presented with formidable challenges from Campbell-Savona. When the stars aligned for Sectionals, the possibility of yet another competitive battle was in the cards. That became a reality on Tuesday on the tournament’s opening night.
Once more, the No. 5 Wolverines had to overcome some hot shooting from the Panthers out of the gate.
But Bolivar-Richburg would soon see a spark emerge, and it would come from off the bench. Looking to put the game away, Cayden Gaines helped provide that at the drop of a hat, scoring a chunk of his season-high 10 points to fire up the team’s engine in the second half, creating even more room to coast away from No. 12 Campbell-Savona and towards a first round win by a 76-45 count in what was their final home game of the season.
“We overcame some on-point shooting to start. They played a very different game as opposed to the last two times we played them already,” said Wolverines coach Justin Thomas. “Cayden worked his butt off, and helped distribute the ball very well to give us that nice spark in the second half. We did a lot of great things offensively behind him too. All together, this was a nice team win off some great contributions from everyone to go with great defense. It was a great way to kick off the best time of the season.”
The win now positions the Wolverines into the Class C2 Quarterfinal round on Friday, where they will make a long bus ride up north to the fringe of Wayne County to face No. 4 Red Creek — their opponent from this past fall’s Class C2 Finals in boys soccer.
To do it, Bolivar-Richburg (17-4) jumped the gun out of the gate with the first of two 20-point frames on offense, outlasting a fiery start on the other side from Campbell-Savona along the way to create their first lead. Along the way, the Wolverines would then kick their tires into gear on the offense after Gaines’ spark, as four different scorers all eclipsed double digits on the floor to pave the way.
Among them, the team’s leading scorer in Aydin Sisson, who posted a game-high 18 points. Closely behind him was Evan Pinney, who recorded 15 points of his own to go with eight rebounds, while Landon Barkley followed with 13 points, and Gaines with his 10. On special teams, the hosts in white and red saw two more key contributors enter the fray, including David Baldwin and his 11 boards, and Reiss Gaines who served as the team’s Swiss Army Knife — grabbing eight rebounds, handing out five assists and jarring loose three steals.
With a 38-24 lead to control going into the break, the Wolverines were able to break the floodgates open with a solid third quarter performance to pair along with their final 20-point quarter in the last eight minutes.
Next up on the docket is a Quarterfinal date with the fourth-seeded Mules on Friday, as the action begins tentatively at 7 p.m. For Thomas, the feeling was quite clear on the bench about their next opponent — they want vengeance.
“I can hear on the bench a couple of times that the kids really wanted this game with Red Creek after the soccer finals this past fall. They’re ready to go, and they want this game. They’re not afraid of anyone that they go up against. We’re going to give it two solid days in practice, and then we’ll go and get that extra piece this time around.” he said.
Campbell-Savona 11 13 10 11 – 45
Bolivar-Richburg 20 18 18 20 – 76
CAMPBELL-SAVONA: Ethan Ribble 3 0-0 7, Lucas Feldman 3 3-5 9, Blake Ryan 4 1-2 11, Collin Klemann 1 2-2 4, Rece Jamison 1 0-0 2, Jackson Kibler 3 0-0 9, Dawson Shoemaker 0 1-2 1, Shelton Shedrick 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 7-11 45.
BOLIVAR-RICHBURG: Aydin Sisson 8 2-4 18, Cayden Gaines 4 0-0 10, Landon Barkley 5 0-0 13, Reiss Gaines 3 0-1 7, David Abdo 1 0-0 2, Waide Karnuth 1 0-0 2, Caden Giardini 1 0-0 3, David Baldwin 2 0-0 4, Evan Pinney 6 1-1 15, James Margeson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 32 3-6 76.
3-point goals: C-S 6 (Kibler 3, Ryan 2, Ribble), B-R 9 (Barkley 3, C. Gaines 2, Pinney 2, R. Gaines, Giardini).
Total Fouls: C-S 7, B-R 12. Fouled out: None.
TRICIA DAVENPORT PHOTO GALLERY: