EDINBURG, Texas — On Tuesday night the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (11-21) battled until the last second but fell 117-112 to College Park Skyhawks (16-15) in an emotional game at Bert Ogden Arena.
Since the tragic news of Kobe Bryant passing away, basketball teams across the world have been paying their respects to Bryant. Vipers fans filled the stands with yellow and purple jerseys in honor of #24 and #8. Both teams honored Bryant’s memory by taking a 24- and 8-second violation each.
After each team paid its respects, the game picked up the tempo. The Skyhawks picked up an early 8-7 lead but the Vipers claimed a 26-21 lead over College Park soon after. The Skyhawks tried to come back and steal the lead, but RGV secured a 34-30 lead to end the first quarter.
Just six seconds into the second quarter, the Skyhawks scored 12 points to take a 42-40 lead over RGV. The Vipers fought hard to regain its lead, but the scoreboard leaned in favor of the Skyhawks 63-52 at the end of the first half.
At the half, three Skyhawks players reached the double-digits; Armoni Brooks (14 points, three assists and four rebounds), Marcus Derrickson (14 points, three assists and two rebounds) and Anthony “Cat” Barber (11 points, five assists, three rebounds).
RGV was led by Jaron Blossomgame with 13 points, three rebounds and one assist followed by Isaiah Taylor with 11 points, two rebounds and three assists. Brandon Sampson contributed 11 points and three rebounds.
Taylor made it known that the Vipers were about to pick up the pace. With 3:19 remaining in the third quarter, Taylor stole the ball from the Skyhawks and took it directly to the basket for a layup. As the pace picked up the Vipers went from trailing 75-59 at the middle of the third quarter to only trailing by two points at the end of the quarter 82-80.
With just seven minutes remaining in the game, Kerwin Roach II stole the ball and made a layup to give the Vipers a 95-92 lead. Thirty seconds later, Brandon Sampson received the ball and attempted to score but missed. However, Sampson was not about to give up. He regained the ball, dribbled it back to the Vipers side of the court and dunked it to make the score 97-92. RGV put up a fight until the end, but the Skyhawks would regain the lead and take a 117-112 win.
Brooks was the top performer of the night with 32 points, five rebounds and four assists. Derrickson made an impact on the team as he reached a double-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Both Barber (six rebounds and nine assists) and Mark Ogden Jr. (eight rebounds and two assists) scored 13 points. Tying with 11 points were Jordan Sibert (five rebounds) and Tahjere McCall (four rebounds and five assists).
Blossomgame hit a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor’s determination led him to 23 points, four rebounds and six assists. Also scoring in the double-digits were Sampson (15 points, five rebounds and two assists), Sindarius Thornwell (12 points, six rebounds and six assists) and Jacobi Boykins (12 points).