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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / McCallie's Will Kwasigroch forces a steal in Tuesday's home victory over Mt. View Christian Academy.

Eric Rivers is focused on making the most of every moment in his senior year at McCallie.

Just a day after winning a second straight Division II-AAA football state championship, in which Rivers totaled 114 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-0 win over MUS on Dec. 3, he was making his basketball season debut.

"It's been a crazy year, but you have to learn how to overcome things and embrace every opportunity you have to get out there and compete," said Rivers, who scored 14 first-half points along with Wilson Rankin in the Blue Tornado's 81-22 home victory over a previously 7-0 Mt. View Christian Academy (Ala.) on Tuesday.

"You have to go out there and have fun and try to forget what's going on in the world. Playing each game is a blessing because you never know if it's going to be your last this year. We didn't take anything for granted during football and I am extremely grateful we were able to go back-to-back."

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Prep round up: Rivers a guiding force for McCallie

For one of the city's top prep athletes, Rivers knows he has a big decision to make over the coming months regarding not only his college decision but what sport he wants to play.

On the basketball court, he is a patient, unselfish and explosive point guard who can take over in the blink of an eye. The 6-foot agile playmaker wowed the crowd at the Dr. Pepper Classic last year with a 36-point showing against the country's No. 3-ranked team in Sunrise Christian from Kansas.

Rivers produced exceptional numbers this fall as he had 962 total yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games played for McCallie who rallied after a 4-3 start to win its last four. His versatility shined as he completed 3-of-4 passes for 87 yards and two scores, had 25 receptions for 509 yards and seven scores along with 23 carries for 231 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 136 return yards on six chances.

"I love playing both sports," said Rivers, who averaged over 19 points and three steals a game last season. "I don't know which one I am going to play yet. Hopefully it comes to me. I am going to let God guide me in the right direction."

Calhoun 43, Harrison 40: Lockdown defense helped provide a victory in the season opener for Calhoun at home Monday night. The Yellow Jackets did not allow a point in the second quarter as they built a 24-17 halftime lead over the Hoyas. Dylan Faulkner led all scorers with 13 points to aid his team in victory.

Heritage 68, Northwest Whitfield 52: The Generals jumped out to a 35-22 halftime lead on the road as they improved to 5-4 overall and a perfect 4-0 in Region 7-AAA. Heritage hit seven 3-pointers and shot 17-of-22 on free throws as Carson Palmer led the way scoring 17 points (three 3-pointers, 6-of-7 free throws). Northwest Whitfield's Payton Baker led all with 21 points, while Heritage's Mitchell Kennedy scored 11.

South Pittsburg 64, Richard Hardy 25: The Pirates had four players finish in double-figure scoring as Reggie Hunter and Javen Talley stood out with 15 and 14 points, respectively. South Pittsburg scored 22 points in the third quarter to put the game away for good. Garrison Andry and Rico Frazier added 11 and 10 points in the win.

 

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

Ringgold 53, Murray County 51: The Lady Tigers did not let a slow start faze them in Tuesday's Region 6-AAA home victory in which they trailed 15-7 after the first quarter. Rachel Lopez helped rally Ringgold (6-1, 3-1 region) as the junior point guard supplied 14 points and seven assists. Jade Gainer and Baileigh Pitts provided a spark offensively in the fourth quarter to hold off the Lady Indians who were led by Mattie Nuckolls' 20-point performance. Gainer finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Trion 50, Drew Charter 44: The Lady Bulldogs improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in Region 6-A Public. Chloe Murdock scored 19 points for Trion who had 11 different players score in the road victory.

 

WRESTLING

Heritage competed in its first traditional tournament this year, facing tough competition in the Takedown Sportswear Invitational held in Buford, Ga. Tate Thomas impressed at 106 pounds for the Generals as he went 2-1 and had a pair of pins to medal in second-place. Evan Wingrove (138) and Braeden Oliver (285) each went 2-2 and finished in sixth place along with Cayman Hughey (132).

Compiled by Patrick MacCoon. Contact him at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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