After going through the conference undefeated and winning the first two games of the 3AA North Junior District Tournament, the Riverside Lady Rebels were within one victory of running the table and capturing the tournament championship to go along with their conference title.
But someone forgot to tell Maynard about the plan, as the Lady Tigers, who had lost two narrow decisions to Riverside in regular season action, played quite possibly their best half of basketball in the second half of the title game to pull off a 46-37 upset Saturday night at Caraway.
Riverside used three treys from freshman point guard Kelsey Turner as the Rebels clung to an 18-17 halftime lead. But the Lady Tigers came roaring out of the gate in the second half, outscoring Riverside 13-8 to take a 30-26 lead entering the final frame. Riverside pulled within two early in the fourth quarter, and was within a couple of seconds of forcing a 10-second violation, when the Lady Tigers threw a pass over the press and Cortney Cagle scored a lay-up, putting the Tigers back up by four and Riverside could never recover.
Riverside was then forced to foul and Maynard came through at the foul line, hitting 8-10 free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory and claim the championship.
The Lady Tigers, who finished the year as conference runner-up to go along with their district title, completed their season with a 24-3 record, losing only to Riverside twice and a triple overtime loss to Marmaduke.
Maynard was led in scoring by Megan Flanigan and Sarah Blackwell who both scored 13 points. Cagle finished with nine while Jessica Barber scored seven and Molly Flanigan added four to complete the Lady Tiger attack. Maynard finished 13-20 from the foul line and hit one trey on the night.
Riverside was led by Turner who finished with 12 points, all on three pointers, while Kasey Davis contributed 11 more. The Lady Rebels, who finished the season 31-5, also got five points from Brianna Driver, four points each from Morgan Emery and Katey Campbell, while Kassie Douglas added one point. Riverside finished 4-8 from the free throw line and hit five three pointers on the night.
The 3AA North Conference Champion Lady Rebels also claimed the Gerald Jennings Invitational Tournament Title as well the Jack T. Moore Memorial Tournament Championship.
"We had a great year," said Riverside Coach Greg Rainwater. "We finished 31-5, won two tournament championships, went through the conference undefeated and finished district tournament runner-up. We also beat a 5A school in Annie Camp. Of our losses, one came to an undefeated Hillcrest team, another was to East Poinsett County, who only lost three games this year, so the teams that beat us were very good basketball teams. I couldn't be prouder of a group of girls.
"The truth is, Maynard has a great team. It's hard to beat a team three times. The first two games we won by three and five points. We knew coming in this would be a tough game and Maynard played a great second half. They made their free throws and did what they had to do to win the game. I thought we looked nervous tonight. We had 17 turnovers and only 10 rebounds. Morgan (Emery) getting in foul trouble didn't help us. But Maynard just flat out-hustled us. But we had a great year and have nothing to hang our heads about."
"This was a great win for our team," said Maynard Coach Sean Glenn. "Riverside had beaten us twice this year in two very close games, so we knew we could play with them. Tonight was just our night. They (Riverside) have a great ball club. We really handled the ball well and were very aggressive and shot our free throws well when we had to down the stretch. Our press also gave Riverside a lot of trouble, and I thought all those things combined was the difference in the game. This was a big win for our program and I am very happy for our girls."
Riverside reached the finals by defeating Marmaduke 45-34 Friday night behind Kasey Davis' 16 points. The Lady Rebels led 10-8 after the first quarter and 22-15 at the half. Marmaduke cut the lead to five, 34-29, entering the final quarter, before outscoring the Lady Greyhounds 11-5 in the final frame to advance to the championship game.
Brianna Driver scored nine points for Riverside while Kassie Douglas and Morgan Emery had six points each. Kelsey Turner and Katey Campbell added four points apiece to close out the Rebel attack. Riverside finished 7-11 from the free throw line.
Marmaduke was led by Taylor Grayham and Sarah Potter who each had nine points. The Lady Greyhounds shot only 3-11 from the free throw line and hit one trey on the night.
Riverside placed five players on the 3AA North All-Conference team. They are: Kelsey Turner, Morgan Emery, Katey Campbell, Kasey Davis, and Brianna Driver.