Riverside's Lady Rebels led for virtually the entire game last Thursday night at Caraway, but when the final horn sounded, it was the Lady Lions of Manila that had the lead on the scoreboard with a come from behind 45-43 victory in non-conference action between the two long time rivals.
Manila scored the first two points of the game, only to see the Rebels roll off 13 unanswered points, before Manila scored a bucket at the end of the first quarter, as the Lady Rebels carried a 13-4 lead into the second period of play.
Behind the clutch play of sophomore guard Katie Veach, the Lions began to chip away at the Rebel lead and cut the margin to one, 25-24 late in the third quarter. However, Riverside's Ashley Foster hit a big three pointer out of the left corner just before the third quarter ended, giving the Rebels a 28-24 lead heading into the final frame.
The Rebels stretched their lead early in the fourth quarter to 30-24, only to see the Lions battle back, and when Deborah White scored with 6:30 to go in the game, Manila was back within one, 30-29. Samantha Dunigan gave Riverside a 32-29 lead at the 6:15 mark, but again Manila answered before Riverside's 6'2" sophomore center Marisa Johnson scored from inside the paint to give the Rebels a 34-31 lead with 5:35 remaining.
Both teams traded buckets before Johnson scored again to give Riverside a 38-35 lead at the 3:38 mark. But Manila would not go away as White scored again for Manila to make the score 38-27 with 3:15 to play in the game.
Riverside's Dunigan was fouled with 2:58 left and made 1-2 free throws to give the Rebels a 39-37 edge, but Manila's Rachel Cheadle hit a three pointer from the top of the key with 1:38 to go in the game to give the Lions the lead for good, 40-39. After a missed shot by Riverside, Veach drove for two points and Manila stretched their lead to 42-39 with 59 seconds left in the game. Riverside's Foster then answered with a bucket of her own to pull the Rebels to within one, 42-41, with 53 seconds to go.
After Manila missed two free throws, Riverside had a chance to grab the lead when Johnson was fouled with 16 seconds left. Johnson, who dominated Manila the entire night and led all scorers with 21 points, was unable to connect on either free throw, and the Lions grabbed the second miss, forcing the Rebels to foul with nine seconds remaining. Cheadle, who had put the Lions in front with her three pointer earlier in the quarter, clenched the game with two clutch free throws, giving the Lions a 45-41 lead. Amanda Milligan hit a bucket at the buzzer, but it was too little, too late, as the Lady Lions held on for a thrilling victory.
"When the game was on the line, they (Manila) stepped up and rebounded and we didn't," Riverside Head Coach Greg Rainwater said. "They got good shots and finished, and we didn't. We had a chance to put the game away and we didn't do that. Obviously Manila wanted to win it more than we did," Rainwater continued.
"Manila had a hard time guarding Marisa (Johnson) in the middle, but suddenly we just quit getting the ball to her," Rainwater stated. "We missed lay-ups, and we didn't block out," concluded Rainwater, who watched his team fall to 3-3 overall.
"We didn't take the lead until the last two minutes of the game," Manila Head Coach Cody Malloy said. "We just did what it took to win. Rachel (Cheadle) hit some big shots and clenched the game with her free throws. Katie (Veach) did a great job of running the point and finding the open player. Those two are both sophomores. We did a good job of working as a team, although defensively we had a lot of trouble with number 22 (Marisa Johnson). Fortunately, we managed to find some rythym at the end and our pressure got to them. We just played a competitive game and got the edge in the end," stated Malloy, who saw her team improve to 3-2 on the year.
"We were behind the whole game, basically, until the end," said Veach. "We were slacking until the second quarter. Then we picked it up and came out with the win," concluded a happy Veach.
Besides Johnson's 21 points, Sam Dunigan scored nine for the Lady Rebels. Foster had seven, Milligan netted four, while Miranda Boyd chipped in two. The Rebels were 6-12 at the free throw line and hit one three pointer.
Manila was led by Veach's 19 points while Cheadle finished with 11. Amanda Henson scored nine, Deborah White added four, while Annette Hiser chipped in two. Manila was 5-9 at the free throw line and nailed four treys on the night.
On Monday night, Riverside hosted Armorel at Caraway and came away with a 70-17 victory.
The Lady Rebels jumped all over the Lady Tigers 21-2 after the first quarter and built a 32 point lead by the half, 40-8. Riverside stretched the margin to 40 points, 55-15, after three quarters, before ending up with a 53 point victory.
Riverside had 10 players in the scoring column, led by Natasha Coffee with 16 points and Sam Dunigan who had 15. Amanda Milligan and Emma Wilson scored eight points each. Ashley Foster scored six, Emilee Hook, Audrey Booth and Marisa Johnson scored four each, while Magan Adams rounded out the scoring with three points. Riverside was 9-14 from the free throw line and hit five treys on the night. The Lady Tigers were 4-6 at the free throw line and hit one three pointer on the night.
Riverside hits the road this week, traveling to Maynard for a key conference battle on Monday night. The Lady Rebels will then take on the Harrisburg Lady Hornets in non-conference action Thursday night at Harrisburg.