It is a good thing that Riverview Raiders coach Thomas Coleman enjoys a good challenge, because his team got one that was more than it could handle Tuesday night against ESTEM from Little Rock.

The cold air outside the Raiders’ gym seemed to have been let into the building in the second half, cooling off the Riverview offense in the 47-37 loss.

Coleman said that he likes to schedule games against teams like the Mets that can create certain challenges for his team and give Coleman a chance to teach the game of basketball and to coach his team.

“It is a combo. We scheduled this game. We were in a [canceled] Christmas tournament. It was tough to find people to play. I want to schedule a tough team.” Coleman said. “ESTEM is in the 4A Region 5 Conference and they went to the semifinals last year, and I knew that they would be a good team.”

ESTEM has both size across the back line and speed out on the wings, but in the first quarter, the Raiders perimeter game kept the Mets’ defense from sagging under the basket creating good open looks for Riverview junior guard Hunter Morris and his team.

Morris scored 14 points for the Raiders and got some support from senior Tyler Rayson with seven points all coming from the free throw line.

In the second quarter, the Raiders were forced out of their offensive rhythm as the Mets’ defense picked up momentum by causing the Raiders into a series of turnovers. That created an opportunity for the Mets to play at the tempo that they like, which is fast and finishing strong at the basket.

Taking advantage of the inside game, ESTEM center Jacquarria Harris, with 18 points, and junior forward Tyler Hawkins attacked the basket. Hawkins added 12 points for the Mets.

“He battles for us as hard as he can; he does tough and physical baskets that you need or get that one rebound that you might need,” ESTEM coach Nathan Puttorff said. “Tyler Hawkins probably had his best night of his career tonight. He is a junkyard dog; he is not going to wow you with anything but he is always in the right spot and he is always going to be making the right plays.”

The defense for the Mets and the ability to get the offense rolling in the fourth quarter created too much of a deficit for the Raiders to overcome.

“We hang our hats on the defensive side of the basketball and I know that we have talked about it, We preach it every day,” Puttorff said. “And there are going to be nights when the basketball does not go into the hole, and tonight was one of those nights. Offensively, we got great looks and we executed great, we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket. I tell my guys that no matter what goes on offensively we control the defensive end, and that is exactly what happened.”

Riverview was scheduled to play Lonoke on Wednesday. Coverage of that game will be posted online tonight at and be printed in Saturday’s edition.

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