ALEDO — One quarter was the difference as a memorable 2020-21 season came to an end for the Rio Vista Eagles in a 53-30 loss to Poolville in the Class 2A bi-district playoffs at Aledo High School.
Rio Vista hung tough early as Poolville held slim leads of 7-6 after the first quarter and 21-16 at halftime, but the Monarchs (15-8) dominated the third quarter by a score of 16-0 to take a 37-16 lead into the fourth.
“We talked about it before the game, just based off watching them, we knew they typically have a really good third quarter,” Rio Vista Coach Daniel Hobbs said. “We told them it’d come down to who could win the third quarter. Give them credit, they made their shots and we couldn’t buy a basket during the third quarter. It was really just that third quarter that killed us. We played a good first half and good fourth quarter, but we just couldn’t get the ball to go in during the third quarter.”
Senior Anthony Perez led the Eagles with 14 points as the lone scorer in double figures. Josh Howard added five points.
Because of those third-quarter issues, the Eagles’ turnaround season came to an end. It was Rio Vista’s first playoff appearance since 2012-13 after going 7-5 in District 12-2A.
“They made it in 2012-13 and then before that they hadn’t made it since ‘99 so most of these kids have never known basketball to be in the playoffs,” Hobbs said. “It was definitely special for not only the team but you could see the people in the community rallying behind us. We had more people show up to games and supporting us. You could definitely feel as we got closer that the team realized they had a chance to do something special. It meant a lot to them. You could tell this senior class wanted to make their mark and change the culture of Rio Vista.”
Hobbs said the Class of 2021 is a special group, helping Eagle football to its most successful season in 20 years and then leading Eagle basketball to only their second playoff berth in 22 seasons.
“We had a senior group that’s been with me for three years and they all bought in together and kind of carried that momentum over from football,” Hobbs said. “They had a difference about them this year. They knew they could win.”
Hobbs said ever since he stepped foot in Rio Vista three years ago as the Eagles’ head basketball coach, this senior group bought in immediately and was willing to put in the work to turn things around.
“They’ve bought in and they’ve showed up and they’ve put in the extra work,” Hobbs said. “That’s what you can say about this senior group is they’re willing to put in extra work. They do extra after practice and always work hard. This senior group, when we first got here 3 years ago and Coach [Kasey] Black got here 2 years ago, they all bought in to what we’ve been trying to do and they were willing to put in the work to turn things around. And that makes it a lot easier as a coach when you have players committed to work hard and get better. The work these seniors have put in, the other classes see that and so they made sure they were working hard, too. It’s been a special group.”
Even though the Eagles will lose six seniors to graduation, Hobbs said he believes what Rio Vista accomplished this year will serve as momentum for the Eagle basketball program moving forward.
“We got two starters coming back next year and we’ve got four more that have had some experience on the varsity level,” Hobbs said. “I think it’ll give them the confidence that we’re supposed to be there. That was the biggest obstacle was, not only just being able to win multiple district games and making in the playoffs, but having confidence that we’re supposed to be there. It’s something now to where we’re not happy just to be there anymore.”