Lady Rebels punch ticket to Regional Tournament with win over EPC

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Riverside gave first year head coach Jeff Womack his biggest victory of the season as the Lady Rebels knocked off defending state runner-up East Poinsett County 59-53 in the quarterfinals of the 2A-3 District Tournament Wednesday night at Marmaduke, propelling Riverside into this week's regional tournament at Sloan Hendrix.

Riverside's Chelsea Nichols launches a three pointer in the Lady Rebel's victory over Cross County Monday night in the 2A-3 District Tournament at Marmaduke. Nichols scored a game high 18 points for the Lady Rebels.

The Lady Rebels fell behind midway through the first quarter when EPC's Teria Young connected on back to back treys, giving the Lady Warriors an early 8-7 lead. Kenzley Wilson put the Lady Rebels back on top 9-8 with a driving lay-up at the 2:16 mark. Riverside closed the opening quarter leading 13-10.

Riverside maintained a slim lead throughout the second period, despite the strong inside play of Lady Warrior Alicia Ross, who scored seven points during the quarter. Ross' turnaround jumper at the 2:31 mark pulled the game even, before Wilson scored the last four points of the half for Riverside to give the Lady Rebels a precarious 24-22 edge heading into the dressing room at the half.

Hannah Hinton tied the game 24-24 on a 15-foot jumper to begin the third quarter, but Lauren Weaver's offensive stick-back gave Riverside a 26-24 lead. The Lady Rebels built a 35-29 advantage when Catlyn Sailor pitched in a one handed shot at the 4:26 mark, but EPC fought back behind Ross, who scored four unanswered points, cutting the Rebel lead to two. Wilson connected on a long three pointer and added a pair of free throws to give Riverside its biggest lead of the night, 42-35, with 58 seconds left in the period. A pair of free throws by EPC's Synteria Ward with two seconds left in the quarter to slice the Lady Rebel lead to 42-37.

Hinton began the fourth period with another jumper from the free throw line, followed by a Young lay-up, chopping the Riverside lead to 42-41 with 7:00 remaining. Catlyn Sailor then hit a big time three pointer from the left corner at the 5:44 mark to push Riverside's lead to four, 47-43.

EPC fought back and tied the game on a pair of free throws by Ross and Hinton's jumper from just inside the top of the key. Riverside took the lead for good on back to back buckets by sophomore Natalie Milligan to take a 51-48 lead with 3:27 to go.

Neither team could manage points over the next two and a half minutes, until Wilson connected on both ends of the one and one with 44 seconds left to give Riverside a 53-48 cushion. Young drained a pair of free throws with 35 seconds to go to chop the lead to 53-50, but that was as close as the Lady Warriors would get. Wilson wrapped four free throws around an Anna Brickell basket in the final 30 seconds to put the game out of reach.

Wilson poured in a game high 27 points, including 18 in the second half, to lead Riverside in scoring. Sailor also hit double digits, scoring 11 points. Weaver tallied eight, Milligan scored seven, Brickell had four while Gattlin Hale added two points.

Ross led the Lady Warriors with 22 points. Young scored 14 while Hinton added 10.

"We got some big baskets out of Sailor and Milligan in the fourth quarter, and that's what it takes to win, a team effort," said Womack. "That's what you need to do to advance to the regional tournament. We had a goal of holding Ross and Young to a combined 35 points, and they scored 36, so I thought we did an excellent job defensively. Ross is just so hard to defend, and they got some big time baskets from Hinton. It feels great to make it to regionals. We only have one girl who has regional tournament experience, and that was Lauren Weaver's ninth grade year. All the rest of them are rookies and I am a rookie as a girl's coach, so we are all in it together. I couldn't be happier and we are looking forward to the challenge."

The Lady Rebels advanced to the semifinals after dismantling Cross County 58-22 Tuesday night. Chelsea Nichols led the Lady Rebels with 18 points while Kenzley Wilson chipped in 12.

Riverside fell in the semifinals to conference and district tournament champion Marmaduke, 67-48.

Lauren Weaver and Kenzley Wilson were both named to the 2A-3 All-Conference team.

The Lady Rebels will open regional tournament play as the number four seed Wednesday afternoon at Sloan Hendrix. Riverside will take on top seeded Cedar Ridge. Game time is 4:00.

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