Lady Rebels dominate Hoxie to claim district title
Riverside left little doubt who the best team in the 3A-3 District Tournament was with a dominating 59-42 victory over defending state champion Hoxie in Friday night’s finals at Piggott. The win was especially sweet for the Lady Rebels, who suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss in last year’s finals at Osceola.
Riverside broke an early 2-2 tie and forged ahead 12-6 after the first quarter, thanks to back to back triples from Grace Ann Puckett and Bailey Fisher.
Fisher began the second quarter with a long trey and Riverside continued to build on its lead, outscoring the Lady Mustangs 16-3 to take a 28-9 advantage with 3:49 left in the half. Hoxie looked to be out of the game but showed their grit by putting together an 11-0 run to slice the Lady Rebel lead to single digits, 28-20 at the half.
Riverside regained control in the third period, getting three pointers from Fisher and Lotti Hoffman, and built their lead to 42-26, holding Hoxie to just six points in the quarter. The Lady Rebels coasted in the final frame, putting the game away by nailing 10-14 free throw attempts.
Fisher led Riverside with 12 points while Haven Robertson scored 10. Hoffman and Brittney Sain had seven points each, Carson Smith finished with six, Puckett tallied five, Hailey Carr netted four while Whitney Wagganor pitched in three points. Briley Douglas contributed two points while Hattie Milligan added one point to round out the Lady Rebel scoring. Riverside finished 16-22 from the foul stripe and knocked down eight three pointers.
Sydney Gillham topped Hoxie with 11 points while Tessa Glynn added 10. The Lady Mustangs made just 7-16 foul shots and sank three triples. Riverside’s full court press forced Hoxie into 27 turnovers.
“Our team showed a lot of heart tonight,” said Riverside Coach Spencer Hoffman. “Hoxie has a super team. We have so much depth and balance that we were able to overcome their talent. Everybody played as hard as they could and filled their roles. Our motto is “We over Me.” Our press was the difference tonight. We hang our hat on being relentless. That’s our trademark, our badge of honor. And what about our crowd tonight? That one side was full of Riverside fans. This was a big win for our program.”
The Lady Rebels reached the finals with a 65-43 thumping of Corning in Thursday night’s semifinals. The Lady Bobcats had drained 18 treys in their first-round game against Manila, but Riverside’s smothering defense held Corning to just three triples.
The Lady Rebels began the game with a 7-0 run, capped off by Hoffman’s triple. Riverside stretched its lead to 12-3 with a three-point play by senior Hattie Milligan at the 4:09 mark. The Lady Rebels led by double digits before Corning battled back, getting consecutive treys from Maggie Couch to slice the Riverside lead to 19-12 with 1:03 left in the period. Robertson answered with a long ball of her own with one tick left on the clock, giving the Lady Rebels a 22-12 lead at the first break.
The two teams battled on even terms in the third quarter. Wagganor scored seven points during the frame for Riverside, but Kaytie Manatt kept the Lady Bobcats within striking distance as the Lady Rebels took a 38-27 lead into the dressing room at the half.
Riverside held Corning to five third period points and pushed their lead to 49-32, getting three pointers from Robertson and Sain. The Lady Rebels coasted in the final frame while advancing to the finals.
Wagganor led Riverside with 14 points as 12 Lady Rebels got in the scoring column. Robertson scored 11 while Hoffman had 10. Douglas tallied seven, Fisher and Milligan netted five points each, Sain contributed three while Smith, Puckett, Carr, Mallory Felton and Carmen Campbell all chipped in two points each. The Lady Rebels connected on 18-25 charity tosses and banged home 10 three pointers.
Couch led Corning with 17 points while Manatt added 14. The Lady Bobcats made good on 16-24 free throws and hit three treys. Riverside’s defensive pressure forced Corning into 24 turnovers.
Riverside began the tournament by hammering Piggott 88-23. The Lady Rebels placed 13 players in the scoring column led by Robertson’s 18-point performance. Fisher and Campbell scored 12 points apiece while Hoffman and Puckett chipped in 10 points each. Douglas and Carr had four points apiece, Sain, Felton, Lexi Hall and Cailey Qualls all chipped in three points each while Smith and Alexis Courtney both added two points.
The Lady Rebels (34-1) will begin regional tournament play as a number one seed and will face fourth seed Bergman at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday at Melbourne.