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Team Riggs still alive at Valleyball

Jul. 20, 2013 @ 11:17 PM

SPRING VALLEY -- Pleasantries are exchanged from time to time during the Valleyball 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.

High-intensity levels are prevalent as well, especially when a team just lost a game at the buzzer, saw a 22-point lead disappear and needed overtime to prevail in its next action on one of the two courts located at Ronnie Paul Angelo Memorial Park.

Jamie Riggs, a member of defending A Division champion Team Riggs, walked that walk on a hot Saturday afternoon. A Davis' Place team member hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to shock Team Riggs and drop that squad into the loser's bracket in the 28th annual tournament.

When Team Riggs returned to the court, Riggs and his teammates opened a 22-point lead against Kitts Construction only to see that squad rally to tie the game at 59-59 and force overtime. Riggs appeared to have hit a game-winning 3-pointer just before the buzzer, but a foul had been called and he went to the line for a 1-and-1. He missed and two more minutes were needed. In that session, Riggs helped dominate the action and his team pulled away to win, 72-61, and stay alive for a repeat and sixth straight A Division crown.

"You're down after that first game," Riggs said. "After we got the lead, we didn't play too hard and they picked things up and came back. You gather yourself. You know what you have to do. We settled down in the overtime."

Riggs, who scored 26 points, is 36 and thought about stepping aside after the 2012 title run. Instead, the team was a player short and he gladly stepped in to join Andy Burns, Joe Suttles and Mike Lamb.

"Old legs. I wanted to let go," Burns said. "I wanted to take a year off. This is extra for me. I enjoy playing with Andy. I know how much he and the other guys want to win. I'm there to help."

And when the game begins, it's about doing what it takes to win.

"You put your game face on," Riggs said. "When things get close, you step it up ... hit the shots, play defense. Work."

Riggs knows he's older than nearly all the competitors, so he and his teammates get in ample preparation prior to the tournament.

"You have to come in prepared and ready," he said. "You play hard or you go home."

Tanner Wild, who played at Huntington High and then at Tennessee, drove in from Atlanta to join Thornburg Insurance teammates and friends for the competition. Also on his team are tournament co-director Joda Burgess, Adam Yeager, Pup Moore and Brennan Hall.

"It's once a year and I don't get to play as much," said Wild, who does sports marketing in Atlanta with Joey Thacker. "You stay in touch with people. You get used to playing in this. It's fun."

The baskets at RPA Memorial Park are 9-feet, 6 inches high instead of the regulation 10-feet. Games consists of two 12-minutes halves with a running clock with the exception of the final minute of each half. The clock stops when play stops.

Thornburg Insurance won its second game handily. Wild hit for 14 points.

"You freelance things," he said. "You watch the other teams play, see what they do and develop a strategy."

Wild admitted things went better for him in game two compared to the opener.

"You work to get your wind," he said. "I didn't play good basketball. When you get in that zone, you make everything. It's nice until you miss."

Having five players on the roster gives teams more flexibility to substitute. Team makeup reflects experience, athleticism and youth.

"You want to play, but you make sacrifices," Wild said. "Everybody understands that."

Action on Sunday starts at 9 a.m. and continues until champs are crowned in the A and B divisions. The first youth game will take place in the middle of the day. After the championship round, there will be a Media/Celebrity game. The dunk contest scheduled for Saturday got pushed back to Sunday. A 3-point contest was scheduled Saturday night.

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