East Poinsett County used a 16-0 run early in the fourth quarter to break open a close game as the Lady Warriors ended Riverside's season by eliminating the Lady Rebels 62-50 in the first round of the Region 4 Tournament Wednesday at Earle.
The Lady Rebels stayed within striking distance throughout the game as they battled the top seeded and once beaten Lady Warriors before falling to a barrage of three pointers in the decisive final period.
Riverside cut a 14 point deficit to seven when Kelsey Turner nailed a three pointer while Sam Dunigan made 1-2 free throws to trim the EPC lead to 43-36 with 6:55 to go in the game. But the Lady Warriors ripped three straight three pointers, including back to back bombs by freshman sensation Jordan Madden. When the dust had settled, the Lady Warriors had scored 16 straight points to build their lead back to 59-36 with 3:45 remaining.
The Lady Rebels would fight back and outscore EPC 14-3 the rest of the way, but it was too little too late as the Lady Warriors advanced to the semi-finals of the Regional Tournament and within one game of a trip to the State Tournament.
EPC placed three players in double figures led by Sade Madden, who poured in 17 points. Younger sister Jordan Madden finished with four three pointers on her way to a 14 point performance. Samantha King also finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the first half. EPC was 7-15 from the foul line and nailed seven treys on the night.
Riverside placed two players in double figures, led by Marisa Johnson who recorded a double-double, scoring 13 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. Freshman Morgan Emery came off the bench and sparked the Rebels with 11 points. Senior Emilee Hook finished her Lady Rebel career with nine points while fellow senior Sam Dunigan had eight points and 10 boards. Kelsey Turner tallied three points while freshman Briana Driver added two. The Lady Rebels shot 13-17 from the foul line and hit three treys on the evening.
EPC led throughout the contest holding a 13-7 first period advantage before building a 31-19 halftime lead. The Lady Warriors took a 41-32 edge into the final frame.
"I thought we played pretty well," said Riverside Coach Greg Rainwater. "I think EPC is pretty good. We missed some easy shots early that got us in a hole. Every time we would battle back, EPC would hit a big three. We got back within seven with about five or six minutes to go, and they hit three straight wide open three's that just broke our back. I think our first five ran out of gas after pressing them to get back in it. But I am proud of my kids. I am proud of my three seniors, Emma Wilson, Sam Dunigan, and Emilee Hook. We have had a great year. A lot of folks didn't think we would be very good. We finished 22-10 and I am proud of them."
"We started off slow, and couldn't get anything going early," said EPC Coach Bobby Lewallen. "The girls just kept plugging away and finally got the win. They had me worried though. We have been working on our outside game a lot because we have seen so much zone defense lately. Our game is to go to the basket, but teams have been forcing us to take the outside shot, and tonight the shots were going in for us."