MYRTLE BEACH, SC - In a classic opening round game in the 30th Annual Beach Ball Classic, Rice Raiders (Manhattan, NY) scored a 61-60 victory over the Wheeler Wildcats (Marietta, GA).
The game featured nine lead changes and five ties. The last tie came with 6:23 to play when the first of two free throws by Rice's (5-0) Kevin Perez tickled the twine to knot the score at 52-52. The second Perez free throw and two layups by Melvin Johnson gave the Pirates a 57-52 lead with 5:50 to play.
With 2:39 to play, Nigel Snipes closed the gap to just one point at 59-58 when he grabbed an offensive rebound and slammed the ball home. Johnson then hit another driving layup to give Rice a 61-58 lead with 1:06 to play. Wheeler's (6-3) Charles Mitchell hit a pair from the free throw line to again close the gap to just one point with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.
With 27 seconds remaining, Derrick Evans fouls Rice's Richard Council who missed the front end of the one-and-one. Following a Wheeler timeout to set up the final possession, Evans misfired on a 3-pount attempt and Mitchell missed a follow-up jumper to give Rice the win.
Johnson led three Rice players in double figure scoring with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Jermaine Sanders added 15 points while Richard Council chipped in 10 points off of the bench for the Raiders.
The duo of Mitchell (25 points) and Karriem Simons(19 points) kept Wheeler in the game as they combined for 44 points and 18 rebounds. Mitchell led all scorers with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and grabbed 13 boards. Simmons hit 5-of-8 from behind the 3-point arc for 19 points.
The Ravens will face the Douglass Trojans on Wednesday at 3:30pm.