(Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)
Lauren Weaver poured in a game high 28 points and Riverside overcame 28 turnovers to post a hard fought 39-35 victory in the finals of the 2A-3 Junior High Girls District Tournament Saturday afternoon at Bay.
Riverside broke a 7-7 first period tie when Weaver completed a three point play at the 2:06 mark to give the Lady Rebels a 10-7 lead. A three pointer by Kendra Staggs stretched the Rebel margin to 13-7 with 1:25 left in the opening quarter.
The Rebels opened the second period with a 17-9 advantage and the two teams battled on even terms the rest of the half as the Lady Rebels entered the dressing room at intermission with a 21-13 lead.
Riverside's advantage might have been larger, but a full-court Mustang press forced the Lady Rebels into 14 first half turnovers to keep the game close.
Riverside kept their eight point margin intact throughout most of the third quarter, and led 26-18 after a pair of Weaver free throws at the 1:13 mark. But BIC rallied, scoring the last five points of the quarter, including a three pointer by Kalee James just as the buzzer sounded ending the period, leaving the Lady Rebels with a 26-23 edge.
Demi Hargrove's five-foot hook shot pulled the Lady Mustangs to within 26-25 with 5:39 remaining, but Weaver answered, scoring the game's next seven points, including a pair of inside buckets and three free throws, giving the Rebels a 33-25 lead with 2:15 left. The Lady Mustangs didn't quit, and charged back when Jenna Pike drilled a three pointer with 2:03 to go, pulling BIC to within 33-28. BIC's chances took a big blow at the 1:29 mark when Pike joined teammate Taylor Owens on the bench with five fouls. Back to back baskets by Lady Mustang Cassidy Qualls closed the Rebel lead to 35-32 with 17 seconds to go, but Weaver put the game away, nailing four straight free throws in the last 14 seconds to give the Rebels the championship.
"I didn't know what to expect when the season started," said Riverside Coach Greg
Rainwater. "I found out real quick that this group of ninth graders would be very unselfish, allowing a seventh grader (Weaver) to not only start but to lead both in scoring and rebounding. I thought Lauren handled things so well. I never dreamed we would be 27-6, but this has been one of the easiest teams I have ever coached. We survived today despite the turnovers. We talked about turnovers coming in, because BIC is so quick. We knew we would have some, but we just had to make sure they weren't on our end of the court. I thought we did an okay job with that, although we still had too many. I am really proud of our kids. They played hard and stepped up to the challenge. BIC is a very good basketball team."
"Riverside is a very good team," said BIC Coach Stan Fowler. "We didn't lose to a weak team, I can tell you that. We didn't shoot well, plus when they get 31 attempts from the foul line and we get eight, that's too big of an advantage. It was just a tough day. The ball wouldn't go into the hole for us. We got into some foul trouble, and I needed some girls to step up. We just couldn't put the ball in the hole enough. But I am very proud of this group of girls. We have had a great year."
Riverside finished 16-31 from the foul line and hit one three pointer on the day. Rebbekah Frayer finished with five points, Kendra Staggs had three, Beth Anne Snyder scored two while Taylor Boness added one.
Jenna Pike led BIC with 10 points. The Lady Mustangs finished 7-8 from the foul line and made four treys. Brittany Fowler scored seven, Demi Hargrove tallied six, Kalee James netted five, Cassidy Qualls scored four while Taylor Owens added three.
BIC placed four players on the All-Conference team, including Fowler, Hargrove, Owens and Pike.
Riverside had three players named to the All-Conference squad, including Weaver, Boness and Kyley Campbell.