EPC ends Lady Rebel's regional tournament hopes
East Poinsett County turned a six point halftime deficit around with a dominating second half to knock off third seeded Riverside 59-47 in the quarterfinals of the 2A-3 Senior Girls District Tournament Friday night at Lepanto. The win punched the host Lady Warrior's ticket to this week's regional tournament in Monette.
The Lady Rebels, who saw their season come to an end, jumped to an 18-13 lead after the opening quarter behind the one-two scoring punch of Haven Robertson and Skylar Kauke, who combined for 15 of Riverside's 18 first period points.
Synteria Ward's three point play and a strong inside move by Christian Hinson sparked a 7-0 Lady Warrior run which squared things up 20-20 at the 4:38 mark of the second quarter. But Riverside fought back and outscored EPC 11-5 to close the period, capped off by Hattie Milligan's eight foot floater to give the Lady Rebels a 31-25 halftime lead.
EPC charged out of the gates to begin the second half, scoring the first eight points to grab a 33-31 edge. Hinson provided six points during the Lady Warrior run. Gattlin Hale took a feed from Kauke for an easy lay-in to tie things at 33-all, but a five-foot floater by Alyson Phillips, followed by a Becca Bishop free throw, put EPC back in front 36-33 at the 3:15 mark. Robertson evened things up one more time with a long three pointer for the Lady Rebels, but Jaleigha Garnett's driving basket with 2:11 left in the quarter put EPC on top to stay, 38-36. The Lady Warriors scored the last four points of the period to take a 42-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Ward and Hinson began the final frame with back to back buckets, extending EPC's lead to 46-36 with 3:52 remaining. Riverside managed to make one last comeback bid. Ashlyn Snyder drained a long three, followed by a 10-foot Hattie Milligan jumper, trimming the Lady Warrior advantage to 49-44 at the 2:07 mark, but that was as close as Riverside would get. EPC put the game away at the charity stripe in the last two minutes as Ward sank 7-8 foul shots for the Lady Warriors.
Robertson led Riverside with 14 points while Kauke chipped in 13. Milligan scored eight, Snyder had six while Hale and Brittney Sain pitched in three points apiece. The Lady Rebels finished 15-23 from the foul stripe and hit four three pointers.
Ward paced EPC with a game high 23 points while Hinson added 18 more. Garnett chipped in 11. EPC made 18-32 free throws and hit one three pointer on the night.
"I felt like we were in good shape at halftime. We had really controlled the pace and we were able to drive against their man defense and draw a lot of fouls," said Riverside Coach Jeff Womack. "But in the second half, they sagged off of us to prevent the drive, leaving us with a lot of good looks from behind the arc. Unfortunately, we weren't able to knock many down. We had to battle through a lot of injuries this year, and this team responded well. It's never easy when it's over, but I am proud of these young ladies for battling it out all year. I think some of the underclassmen got some very valuable experience that will help our program in the future."