Lady Rebels qualify for state tourney with 56-36 regional win
The opening round of the 2A North Regional Tournament at Newark last Thursday started out slow for the Riverside Lady Rebels (23-9). They were able to muster only eight points in the first period against the Walnut Ridge Lady Bobcats, third seed from the 2A-2.
Of those eight, Katey Campbell hit the first three field goals in a row for six of her 20 points on the night. The Bobcats kept it close those first 8:00 with five points of their own as the quarter ended with both teams having felt out what each could do. Then the second period began.
Starting with the last bucket of the opening period Brianna Driver proceeded to hit for eight points in a row, including a trey to help the Lady Rebs run out to a 19-5 lead with 4:50 to go in the half.
Finally, at that point, Walnut Ridge's Olivia Hackworth drained her second 2-pointer of the night to get the Lady Bobcats back on the board.
Neither team scored for the next 2:30, but Campbell raised cheers from the stands with a jumping put-back to put Riverside at 21. Hackworth responded with her fourth point of the night moments later. That would be the last points the Lady Cats would manage until just :10 remained in the half.
In that same period, the Lady Rebels scored seven unanswered points, Campbell hitting last bucket literally at buzzer for a 30-11 Riverside lead at the break.
"I thought we played very well as a team." said coach Carrie Redman later. "We came out and were looking for each other. The first half was the prettiest I had seen in a long time. We played together and came out for the game as a team. The second half we had to regroup and make sure they didn't come back in the game. We had to refocus on what we needed to do."
The second half was indeed a case of game management as the Lady Bobcats made a concerted run to get back in the game. And while Campbell took up where she loft off, scoring the first bucket of the second half, Hackworth arced in a 3-pointer to begin an eight point run.
With the lead having fallen from 19 to 13 in just over two minutes, the Lady Cats fans were rocking the gymnasium. The final 6:00 of the third period saw two concerted runs, one by each team. First, Walnut Ridge cut the lead to 10 with a modest 8 to 5 run.
But then Lady Rebs fought back the last 3:00 with a 9 to 4 run of their own pushing the lead back out to 15, 46-31.
The final period saw the Lady Rebels simply continued what they had done for the first three periods and by the end of the final 8:00, Riverside had their second biggest lead of the night and the 56-36 win.
"We all worked hard and together." said Redman. "It wasn't a case of just one person scoring, it was everybody. One player would hit and then another. It was simply just great team ball. And if you play team ball, there's not going to be many teams who can beat you. We ended up with a 'W' and that's what counts."
Campbell led the scoring for both teams with 20 while Driver and Michelle Cobb followed with 10 each. Morgan Emery and Anne-Marie Johnson matched each other with five while Kailey Holt and Kyley Campbell did likewise with two each.
Hackworth led the Lady Bobcats with 17.
The victory moved Riverside to the second round of the tournament against Melbourne. Equally important, the Lady Rebels have now qualified for the state tournament this week at Melbourne.