River Ridge boys basketball team starts off 2024 with three wins in three games

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River Ridge sophomore Brandon Davis (0) looks to drive the base line past Belmont defender Gavin Opitz. (A.J. Gates/Grant County Herald Independent)

Junior Andrew Nies (21) leads the Timberwolves on a fast break against the visiting Braves. The Timberwolves won the Six Rivers West conference game 67-28. (A.J. Gates/Grant County Herald Independent)

River Ridge’s Carter Copsey (4) with a steal of Belmont’s Gavin Opitz (4), leading to a subsequent layup. (A.J. Gates/Grant County Herald Independent)

Matthew Nies launches a three-point shot against Belmont. (A.J. Gates/Grant County Herald Independent)

By A.J. Gates


Coach Jim Wagner and his River Ridge Timberwolves had little trouble handing the host Zephyrs of Benton a 78-30 loss on Friday, Jan. 5 in Six Rivers West boys basketball action.

River Ridge’s latest win improved them to 2-2 in league action and 8-4 overall, while the winless Zephyrs fell to 0-4 in conference action and 1-12 overall.

The Timberwolves dominated their opponent at both ends of the court, turning 35 Benton turnovers into 42 total points, as coach Wagner’s squad came away with 28 total steals.

Despite going 0-for-9 from 3-point range, River Ridge made 36-of-74 (48.6 percent) total shot attempts, and were 6-of-8 (75 percent) from the free throw line.

The Zephyrs managed just eight field goals in the contest, shooting 21.6 percent from the field on 37 total attempts.

“It was another good game to allow everyone to get valuable minutes,” said coach Wagner. “Benton is down this year only having a varsity team.”

Leading River Ridge with 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the floor was Matthew Nies, who also had a team-high six rebounds to go along with four steals.

Younger brother Andrew Nies chipped in 12 points, five steals, three rebounds and two assists, while Brady Bunge and Elliott Thornton each finished with 10 points.

In the Timberwolves’ 83-75 non-conference victory over host Seneca on Tuesday, Jan. 2, River Ridge controlled the game from the start, as evident by their 51-31 lead at the half.

Late in the game with a 24-point lead and three minutes to play, coach Wagner pulled his starters, at which point Seneca went to a full-court press. Though the Royals outscored the Timberwolves 44-32 in the second half, coach Wagner’s squad was never in any real danger of losing the game.

The Timberwolves had five different players score in double figures and one other on the verge.

Leading River Ridge with 20 points was Carter Copsey, who was 8-of-10 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

Matthew Nies was close behind with 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the floor and 1-of-5 from the line, while also pulling down a team-high 12 rebounds to go along with five assists and three blocked shots.

Brandon Davis added 13 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high nine assists, while Elliott Thornton chipped in 12 points and eight boards, followed by Andrew Nies with 10 points and Brady Bunge eight.

On the night, River Ridge made 34-of-65 (52.3 percent) shot attempts, including 6-of-15 (40 percent) from 3-point range. They were 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) from the charity stripe, committed a whopping 26 turnovers and out-rebounded their opponent 47-23.

On Thursday night, Jan. 11,  the Timberwolves (2-2, 8-4) welcomed the Belmont Braves (1-4, 3-9) to town.

Scoring an average of 1.24 points per possession and giving up just 0.49 to their opponents, coach Jim Wagner’s River Ridge boys basketball team had little trouble against visiting Belmont last Thursday night in a 67-28 final.

The win improved coach Wagner’s Timberwolves to 3-2 in Six Rivers West conference action and 9-4 overall, while the Braves fell to 1-5 in league play and 3-11 overall.

The Timberwolves dominated both sides of the court last Thursday night, holding a halftime lead of 33-11 before outscoring the Braves 34-17 in the second half.

They came away with 13 steals and committed just 10 turnovers, compared to three steals and 20 turnovers for the Braves.

The Timberwolves were 23-of-44 (52.3 percent) from the field, including 8-of-16 (50 percent) from 3-point range, while making 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) attempts from the free throw line.

Brady Bunge, who is averaging 6.9 points per game, led River Ridge with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-5 from downtown.

Matthew Nies, who averages a team-high 14.1 points per game, chipped in 11 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Brandon Davis and Carter Copsey each finished with 10 points, Davis also dishing out a team-high five assists.

The Timberwolves concluded the first half of their conference schedule this past Tuesday night by hosting Cassville, and will kick off the second half Friday night at league-leading Potosi.

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