Riverview cagers win Division 1 district title

Senior MRE Neal helped Riverview to its first district title since 2012. Photo Larry Caruso

By HANK MINCKIEWICZ

The 2021 season was a historic one for the Riverview basketball team.

The Riverview basketball team went 8-2 against Huron League foes this season and 11-3 overall.

The Bucs also won their first district title since 2012 and won a regional game for the first time since the 1940s. How’s that for a deep history dive?

After sweeping the field in a Division 1 district tournament, the Bucs went 3-0 against Downriver League teams. Riverview, which beat Trenton in its only non-league regular season game, smacked Wyandotte Roosevelt and then Allen Park to claim the district championship.

The Bucs beat the Bears 76-59 and then topped Allen Park 58-47 on March 27 to lay claim to the district title.

In the district tournament the Bucs, who entered as the No. 2 seeded, proved they were the class of the field.

In the championship game, seniors Jimari Moultrie and Caleb Sullivan led the way, combining for 32 of the team’s 56 points. Sullivan had 18 and Moultrie had 14. 

Sullivan was 5-for-6 on three-point shots and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. MRE Neal, Ian Smith, Jagger Kilberg and Landon Kincaid also scored in the Riverview win.

The Bucs also ruled the glass against the Jaguars as Kilberg, Sullivan and Kincaid each had eight rebounds and the Bucs had 36 as a team.

“When we got to the gym for that game you could tell that no one was going to beat us that night,” said coach Marcu Voelz. “The kids were so focused and ready.”

Riverview jumped out to a 12-0 lead at the start of the game and although the Jaguars fought back the outcome was never really in doubt.

“I was really proud of the kids,” said Voelz.

In the district semifinal against Wyandotte, Moultrie had a game-high 22 points and he was supported by Neal with 18 and Sullivan with 13. Smith chipped in with eight, Kilberg and Kincaid each had six and Kolby Dorn had three.

“Wyandotte played us well,” said Voelz, “but both offensively and defensively, we played really well. It was a real team effort.”

The two district victories extended Riverview’s winning streak to seven at the time.

The streak would reach eight when Riverview defeated Monroe in a first-round regional game 48-39.

“Monroe played us tough. They matched up with us pretty well, size-wise, said Voels. “They had scouted us, so they came out and played to stop Caleb (Sullivan). They did a good job, but (Jagger) Kilberg, Jimari and RME took advantage. That was one of the big pluses on this team, we’re hard to stop because so many people can score.”

Kilberg led Riverview with a dozen points, Neal had 11 and Moultrie 10.

The fun came to an end two night’s later when the Pirates fell to River Rouge 70-52 in the regional championship game.

Moultrie had 18 points and Neal 16 in the losing effort.

“We left it all on the floor,” said Voelz. “River Rouge was a good team, but they were beatable. We just ran out of gas.”

Riverview hung tough in the first half and trailed by just one point at the intermission, but led by their star Legend Jeter, the Panthers took control in the second half.

With the regional title, Rouge advanced to the Division 1 state quarterfinal Ann Arbor Huron.

This is a season the Riverview staff had been pointing toward since the current seniors were freshmen and although – because of the DOVID-19 pandemic – it was not quite the season they had envisioned, it was successful and Voelz said he was glad his team got to show it’s stuff on the court.

Now the Bucs have to say goodbye to six seniors, five of whom are starters and start with a new group in 2022.

The graduating seniors are, Jimari Moultrie, Ian Smith, Aiden O’Neil, MRE Neal, Caleb Sullivan and Jagger Kilberg.

“We will miss those guys,” said Voelz, “but we’ve got some good juniors coming back who we can count on and we have the benefit of an incoming undefeated jayvee team and there are some super talented players in that group.”

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