Zane Riffe was a force every time that he stepped onto the court during the 2019-20 Forsan basketball season. The forward's senior year on the hardwood was defined by a hard-driving approach on offense that also came with a silky jump-shot and earned him the District 7-2A Offensive MVP award following his outstanding last season suiting up for the Buffaloes. Riffe has also recently added two more accolades to his resume after being named to the All-Big Country Preps Basketball team and the 2A All-West Texas team.
“He led us in scoring, led us in rebounding, led us in blocked shots, led us in steals almost every night,” Forsan coach Cory Richardson said. “He was definitely what made us go. If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t have won very many games this year.”
Being one of the most experienced members of the team, Riffe had a lot of pressure on him to lead the Buffaloes against their competition. During one point near the middle of the season, Richardson pulled Riffe aside to tell him in order for Forsan's season to be successful then he had to be more aggressive on the court. From that point on, the offense was run through the big man and the Buffs' offense really began to take off.
Riffe had impressive numbers throughout the season and was the Buffs' leading scorer in almost every game. He averaged 11.7 points per game with several 20-point outings scattered throughout the schedule. The forward was also a force on the boards and averaged 11.1 rebounds per game. This means that Riffe averaged a double-double during his senior season, a feat that not many high school basketball players accomplish.
“Our record wasn’t great but we were in a lot of games this year that we could have won and it was only because he kept us in there. If it wasn’t because of his scoring it was because of his defensive rebounding,” Richardson said.
It is impossible to forget Riffe's effort on the defensive side of the ball as he finished the season averaging 2.3 steals per game and 1.5 blocks per game. If an opponent decided to throw it into Riffe's zone, there was a great chance that the ball was going to be heading the other way down the court in a hurry.
When the 6-foot-2 forward would make his way to the opposite end of the court, he always made a smart decision on whether to drive the lane to the basket himself or to dish it to the open man on the wing. Even when he would play off the ball, Richardson was likely to run a play to set up his star player with an open shot. This example of high basketball IQ and on-court versatility will be sorely missed by Forsan when they hit the hardwood next fall. Even though he might have not been the loudest player on the court, Riffe always led by example.
“He wasn’t very vocal. But if you have a kid that is going to give that kind of effort, then people are going to follow him,” Richardson said.
In addition to leading his team on the court through his own offensive skills, Riffe also improved the game of his teammates near the basket. Late in the season, when opposing teams began to double-team him, Riffe excelled at finding the open man underneath the basket or near the three-point line. Even when the ball was not coming his way, the extra attention put on him by defenses would free up one of his teammates for an open shot.
Even with a first-round exit from the playoffs this season, there was plenty to be proud of with the young roster of the Buffaloes. Riffe will not be returning next season but the influence he left on his younger teammates should surely be felt whenever the Buffs return to the court. Following his stellar senior season, there will be plenty of usable tape for Richardson to show his future players on how to play Forsan basketball.
“Whatever he did he did it at 100 percent,” Richardson said. “He wasn’t perfect and we don’t ask anybody to be perfect but his example of perfect effort is something tha we can build off of and if we have guys that are going to follow his example, then we’re going to be okay.”
Next fall, Forsan will be looking for their next standout player on the hardwood. If every player on the court for the 2020-21 Buffaloes can display the dominating effort that Riffe exhibited this past season, then Richardson will have himself a group of players prepared to run the court as hard as one of the greatest players in school history.
Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, email email@example.com or call 432-263-7331.