BECKLEY, W.Va. -- Through a season punctuated by turmoil, Riverside was unable to maintain the pace of the state's hottest Class AAA boys basketball team.
The Warriors fell short of the second State Tournament appearance in school history when Andrew Johnson scored 24 points and added eight assists to lead Beckley to a 79-61 Region 3 co-final victory at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center on Tuesday.
Beckley secured its 17th consecutive victory and its 31st State Tournament berth since the emergence of the three-class system in 1959 using a decisive depth advantage and four third-quarter 3-pointers against a 2-3 zone to send the Warriors (10-14) to their ninth loss in the last 13 games.
It didn't come easy until the third quarter for the Flying Eagles (21-4), who will await the release of the seeds on Friday to determine their spot in the State Tournament on March 13-16. Beckley steamrolled Riverside 88-45 on Feb. 7 at Quincy.
"Scary, you just never know about kids and how they're going to respond," said Beckley Coach Ron Kidd, whose team made 14-of-36 shots in the first half and 14-of-25 in the second. "I thought our kids responded from the end of the second quarter. Even though we got on them hard coming in (halftime), I felt we got rolling right there."
Riverside was living on borrowed time in the first half when Beckley was just 4-of-14 against a 2-3 zone. Those same attempts fell in the third when the hosts were 4-of-8 and got out to a 51-42 lead midway through the quarter.
The explanation was fairly simple for the Warriors, who held a 25-19 lead halfway through the second quarter despite have 11 of their 18 turnovers to that point.
"We couldn't play man to man, we knew we would have to sit in a zone," Riverside interim coach Chad Metten said. "They started making the shots in the second half that they weren't making in the first half. That's what good teams do. They find ways to put away their opponent."
It began with 2:12 left in the first half when two Johnson 3-pointers sandwiched a Nick Light basket to trim Riverside's lead to one. The Warriors led 35-32 when Brent Osborne scored two of his 11 points and Nequan Carrington had two of his 15 to give Beckley the lead.
Junior Donte Nabors had 16 points and had seven rebounds, one of three Beckley players with at least six boards.
Riverside senior guard Marcus Reed and senior forward Nick Light kept the visitors close, scoring 18 of their 35 first-half points.
"I felt like in the first half, when we weren't as tired, we got our hands up quicker," said Reed, who had four assists. "In the second half you could tell we were getting tired because we don't have as much depth as they have."