Lady Rebels hold off Tuckerman to reach NEA semifinals
Kailey Holt sank three critical free throws in the last 20 seconds to lift Riverside to a heart-stopping 58-56 victory over Tuckerman in the quarterfinals of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament Saturday morning in Jonesboro.
The sixth seeded Lady Rebels took a 15-10 lead in the first period over number three seeded Tuckerman behind the scoring of seniors Katey Campbell and Morgan Emery. Campbell's three pointer with only three seconds left in the period gave the Lady Rebels a five point lead heading into the second quarter.
Michelle Cobb began the second stanza with back to back treys, followed by a 10-foot pull up jumper by Emery to give the Lady Rebels a 23-12 lead at the 6:10 mark. Cobb's third three pointer of the quarter with 3:58 left in the half pushed the Riverside lead to 28-16 before Tuckerman sliced the advantage to 29-20 at the half with a pair of lay-ups by Claire Caldwell and Hannah Kagen.
The Lady Bulldogs charged back in the third period aided by the help of a three pointer from Amanda McGhee, who led Tuckerman with 14 points, cutting the Riverside lead to 29-25. The Rebels stretched their advantage back to five, 34-29, with an offensive stick-back from Campbell, but Caldwell's conventional three point play sliced the Riverside edge to 35-32 heading into the fourth period.
The two teams swapped three pointers to begin the final frame before Tuckerman took their first lead since the opening seconds of the game on an offensive stick-back by Holley Smith with 5:52 to go. Danielle Wright followed up with a 12-foot jumper to give the Lady Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game, 43-39, at the 5:14 mark, but the Lady Rebels charged back with a pair of free throws by Brianna Driver and a 10-foot pull-up jumper by Campbell that tied the score at 43-43 with 4:29 left.
McGhee put Tuckerman back up by two, but Cobb hit her biggest three pointer of the day at the 4:00 mark, giving Riverside a 46-45 edge. Three free throws by the Lady Bulldogs put Tuckerman up for the last time at the 3:37 mark, 48-46. Cobb answered with a pair of free throws to tie the score before Driver and Holt each sank a pair of free throws to give the Lady Rebels the lead for good, 52-50.
Meagan Goza's inside bucket with 48 seconds left cut the Rebel lead to 55-54, but Holt calmly sank a pair of charity tosses at the 20 second mark to push the Riverside lead back to 57-54. Caldwell drove the land for a two point bucket to make it a one point game once again, but the Lady Bulldogs were forced to foul Holt with six seconds left. The senior point guard sank one of the two free throws for a two point advantage and Caldwell's running 10-footer banged off the iron at the buzzer, giving Riverside the victory.
Cobb led all scorers with 19 points, including five three pointers. Campbell also finished in double digits for the Lady Rebels, scoring 15 points. Driver netted nine, Emery scored seven before fouling out, Holt finished with seven while Holly Dudley added one point.
"We played too fast in the third quarter and had too many turnovers, letting them back into the game," Riverside Coach Carrie Redman said. "But we slowed the game down and played really well down the stretch in the clutch situations. We hit the free throws when they counted at the end and got a big tip from Katey Campbell when we really needed it. I am super proud of the girls. They did all the little things right, except for the third quarter lapse. But we calmed down and really played well the rest of the way."
Riverside (12-4) opened the tournament with a 62-47 victory over Walnut Ridge. Morgan Emery and Katey Campbell led the Lady Rebels with 15 points apiece while Kailey Holt also hit double figures with 12 points. Michelle Cobb scored nine, Brianna Driver netted four, Holly Dudley contributed three while Anne-Marie Johnson and Christy Ward added two points apiece.