When Riverside and Bay hook up in hoops action, fans can always expect a battle to the finish, and that is exactly what they got Thursday night when the Lady Rebels played host to the Lady Yellowjackets in a battle for sole possession of first place in the 3AA-North Conference at Lake City.
Bay, fresh off the NEA Tournament championship, got into early foul trouble but managed to hold on for a 54-44 victory. Bay led 18-14 lead after the first quarter, and maintained the margin going into the dressing room at the half, 30-26. Both teams continued to battle tooth and nail through the third period, with Bay pulling ahead by seven, 41-34. The Lady Rebels made one last run late in the game, down three, with a chance to tie the game, but they misfired from beyond the arc and Bay hit key free throws down the stretch to improve their record to 17-4 overall, 8-1 in league play, and a firm hold on first place in the league standings.
The Lady Rebels dropped to 18-5 overall, 4-2 in league play.
"They are a very good team," said Riverside head coach Greg Rainwater. "They have too many weapons. When Amber McMasters got into foul trouble, Coach Harpole was able to bring Samantha Carter off the bench. She could be starting for a lot of teams. I thought we played with a lot of heart, but Bay has five strong starters plus a very good bench, and that proved to be too much tonight," added Rainwater.
"Sam Carter stepped up when we got in foul trouble," said Bay coach Bobby Harpole. "I really thought the third quarter was the key to the game. We got some key stops, and were able to hold on for the win," added Harpole.
Jessica McMasters paced the Yellowjackets with 14 points, while Amy Ballew scored 10 points and added seven rebounds. Amber McMasters, who played much of the game with four fouls, added nine, while Lee Davis pitched in eight to go along with 13 boards. Sam Carter came off the bench to score five points, while Emily McDaniel had four and Emma Wilson and Lindsey Webb contributed two apiece.
Riverside was led by Amanda Jo Churchill, who scored 11 points, while Keryn Douglas and Miranda Stephens chipped in 10 apiece. Amanda Dunigan was held to five points by a strong Bay defense, while Sam Dunigan scored four. Hailey Faulkner and Amanda Milligan added two apiece.
In the junior high game, Riverside rolled all over the Lady Jackets 33-16 behind a balanced scoring attack led by seventh grader Morgan Emery, who poured in 10 points to lead the Junior Lady Rebels. Marissa Johnson and Kelsey Turned scored seven apiece, while Kasey Davis and Cassie Douglas each scored four. Katey Campbell rounded out the scoring with one point.
Meghon Mink led Bay with seven points, while Kalie Rodel added five. Natasha Coffee scored two, while Bridgette Barnes and Morgan Barnes added one point apiece.
In the seventh grade game, Riverside posted a 27-21 victory as Morgan Emery led the way for the Lady Rebels with 12 points. Kailey Holt and Sarah Haas scored four points apiece, while Megan Murphy had three. Christy Ward and Katey Campbell added two points each to round out the Rebel scoring.
Morgan Barnes had a game-high 16 points to pace the Lady Jackets, while Sarah Layne scored four and Kristian McMasters added one point.