The Riverview girls basketball team seems anything but fazed by the delayed start to the 2020 high school season.
Despite the campaign being delayed by more than two months, the Bucs bolted from the blocks and won seven of their first eight games. Their only setback was a 58-52 loss in the second game of the season to Milan and that turned out to be a bit of a fluke.
The Bucs scored 39 points in the first half, had a big lead and then let it slip away with an atypical 19-point second-half performance.
Riverview proved the loss a fluke by blowing out the Big Reds 67-38 in the second meeting between the two teams on March 1.
In most of its other games, Riverview has been dominant, holding Airport, Jefferson and Grosse Ile each to under 20 points for the game.
In more modest victories, Riverview beat Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 61-27 and Huron 68-30.
But there was one other close affair, and it was a big one.
On Feb. 15, Riverview traveled to Flat Rock and beat the defending league champ Rams, 65-62. The Riverview win halted a 22-game Huron League winning streak for the Rams and also snapped a 31-game home winning streak for Flat Rock.
It was a strange game of shifting momentum.
Riverview led by 10 points in the first half and Flat Rock reversed it and led by 11 in the third quarter. Riverview retook the lead in the final stanza and held on for the victory.
“It was a crazy game,” said Riverview coach Rob Sauter. “It felt very good to win that one.”
Riverview had four scorers in double-digits against Flat Rock and therein lies one of the attributes that make the Bucs so tough to beat – scoring can come from almost anywhere.
“As I was telling our assistant coach the other day, in our first seven games, we have five different leading scorers,” said Sauter.
Against Flat Rock sophomore Cady Kaminske was the leader with 17 points, but fellow sophomore Elyssa Kincaid had 17, senior Kylie Skidmore had 13 and junior Rayah Kolbusz had 12.
Kaminske was the leading scorer against Flat Rock and in the loss to Milan (12 points), but Kincaid led against Jefferson (13 points); Kolbusz (20 points) led against Airport; Skidmore led against SMCC (17 points), Grosse Ile (17 points) and in the win over Milan (24 points); and Paige Beaudry (15 points) led in the win over Huron.
Kolbusz is known as one of Downriver’s best three-point shooters and because of that, she draws a lot of attention. What teams are starting to realize is that she is not the only long-range threat Sauter possesses.
Kaminske has made an amazing 45 percent of shots from beyond the stripe.
“Everyone knows about Rayah and they really gear up to stop her,” said Sauter, “and Cady’s out there on the other side making threes.”
Another hallmark of Sauter’s teams is the “hair on fire” defense they play.
“We call it controlled chaos,” said the Riverview coach. “And the girls could not have bought into it more fully.”
The defense – and the offense – start with point guard Skidmore, said Sauter.
In addition to leading the team in scoring three times already this season, she also leads the team in steals with 31.
She had seven steals to go along with seven rebounds and her 24 points in the rematch win against Milan.
“It begins with Kylie because she put so much pressure on the other team both offensively and defensively,” said Sauter. “She is just ‘on go’ all the time.”
The Bucs will play 15 regular-season games this year, 14 within the Huron League. Included in that was a huge rematch with Flat Rock on March 8.
Then it will be on to the Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs beginning with the district tournament. The site of Riverview’s district and the opponents have yet to be determined, but the other teams in the Riverview district are defending Downriver League champion Trenton, Taylor, Wyandotte and Southgate.
The MHSAA districts begin March 22.