Riverside Lady Rebels split a pair of games over the weekend to open up the 2004-2005 basketball season, winning the opener Friday night at Lynn High School with a 61-52 victory over the Hillcrest Lady Screaming Eagles.
Saturday morning was a different story, however, as the Lady Rebels dropped a heartbreaking 48-47 decision to the Mammoth Springs Lady Bears when Jodie Walsh hit the game winning free throw with 3.5 seconds remaining to sink the Rebels. In Friday night's game, the Rebels trailed throughout the first three quarters, 11-9, after one period, 26-24 at the half, and 42-39 entering the final quarter of play. But that's when the Rebels took over as they began the final frame with a 16-0 run behind the inside play of junior Samantha Dunigan and sophomore Marisa Johnson. "Dunigan and Johnson really stepped up in the fourth quarter," said Riverside Head Coach Greg Rainwater. "That was the difference in the ball game. We came out very sluggish at the start of the game, and really didn't play that well. But I was proud of the way we battled through it and we played good enough when we had to in order to pull out the victory. Miranda Boyd kept us in the game in the first half, and Ashley Foster stuck a couple of big threes that also kept us in the game." The Rebels were led offensively by Johnson's 15 points and 12 rebounds. Dunigan added 14 points and eight boards, while Boyd finished with 13 points to pace the Rebel attack. Foster hit three treys to finish the night with nine points. Rounding out the Rebel scoring was Natasha Coffee with three, Amanda Milligan, Emilee Hook, and Emma Wilson, who all had two points each, while Audrey Booth finished with one point. The Lady Rebels hit 16-30 from the free throw line, while nailing five treys. Hillcrest, 0-1, was led by Megan Johnson's game high 21 points. The Lady Screaming Eagles finished 13-27 from the free throw line and had three treys on the night. The Lady Rebels then faced Mammoth Springs Saturday morning, and played without starting senior guard Ashley Foster, who was forced to miss the game, taking the ACT exam. Riverside held a slim 13-12 lead after the first quarter before Mammoth Springs took a 24-21 lead into the dressing room at halftime. The Lady Bears maintained a one point lead, 34-33, entering the final frame. Walsh then performed her heroics by hitting the game winning free throw, handing the Lady Rebels their first loss of the season. Mammoth Springs improves to 2-0 with the win. Riverside placed three players in double figures, led by Miranda Boyd who had 14 points. Marisa Johnson scored 12, while Sam Dunigan added 11. Emilee Hook and Natasha Coffee scored three points apiece, while Amanda Milligan and Audrey Booth added two points each. The Lady Rebels hit only 7-13 free throws and managed just two three pointers on the afternoon. Mammoth Springs placed two players in double figures as Madison Busch had a game high 15 points, while Ann Whiteside added 11. Walsh added six points for the Lady Bears. Mammoth Springs went to the line 31 times, connecting on 16 while adding four treys on the day. "We really got beat on the boards," said Rainwater. "It seemed like everything they missed, they got back and put back in. Busch and Whiteside both gave us fits, especially Whiteside with her rebounding. She is a very strong, physical, post player who owned the boards. But we actually played better Saturday afternoon than we did Friday, even though we lost." Rainwater talked about the team's first weekend of basketball, saying that
he knew going into the year there would be a learning curve. "In some ways, we are better than I thought we would be, but we do have some glaring weaknesses right now," said Rainwater. "We have to get much more consistent with our work effort and not lose focus on what we are doing. We also have to get more consistent with our scoring. On the other hand, I feel like we have a strong bench led by Emma Wilson who has really worked hard. Also, Miranda Boyd has played really well, having been our leading scorer in one game and finishing our number two scorer in the other game. I feel like we are on the verge of having a real good chemistry on this team. The girls all seem to be coming together as a team." The Lady Rebels will open conference play at Lake City Monday night against Marmaduke and will play a non-conference game against Brookland Thursday
night, also at Lake City. Riverside's Junior Lady Rebels will be participating in the Marmaduke Invitational Tournament that begins Wednesday at Marmaduke.