The River Ridge girls defeated Heritage-Catoosa 61-45 in a game which coach Jason Taylor said was closer than the score indicated.
Heritage kept River Ridge on its toes by switching defenses throughout the game. The Lady General struggled to play man-to-man against the Lady Knights, but seemed to slow River Ridge by using a 1-3-1 or a 2-3.
“We had to make a lot of adjustments as a coaching staff at halftime,” Taylor said. “We were drawing up plays at halftime to try to beat their 1-3-1. We made adjustments and came back in the third quarter and put a run together and the rest is history. We had to work for it (Tuesday).”
River Ridge led 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, but fell behind early in the second quarter when the Lady General put together a run. Down by seven points, the Lady Knights then strung together eight points of their own to take a 25-24 lead into the second half.
“For the first half, it was back-and-forth,” Taylor said. “But once we got that halftime lead, we never gave it up.”
In the third quarter, Lucy Stone and Jessica Baker connect for 3-pointers to give the Lady Knights some separation. River Ridge put the game away from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter by going 12-for-15. Stone accounted for most of them by going 8-for-10 from the line.
Stone led River Ridge with 19 points. Close behind was Jessica Mlaska with 18 points and Baker with 14.
The Lady Knights will face Northwest Whitfield, which defeated Gilmer in overtime, for the region title tonight at 7 p.m. It is the second time in as many seasons that the Lady Knights have played for the region title. Last year, they defeated Northwest Whitfield 72-47 to win the title.
“Everybody is excited,” Taylor said. “The girls are excited. The coaching staff is excited. With the seniors that we lost last season, nobody thought that we would be here with this opportunity to compete for another region championship, except this group of girls and the coaches. Here we are and we are ready to do it again.”
The boys game against Dalton was a different story. In fact, it was different that any game Matt Bohon said he has ever coached.
River Ridge and Dalton played to a 13-all tie at the end of the quarter, but then things got crazy.
The Knights started hitting their shots and Dalton couldn’t get anything near the rim. River Ridge held Dalton to just 15 points for the remainder of the game and cruised to a 67-28 victory.
Bohon said he didn’t make any changes after the first quarter.
“We started stopping them and we started hitting our shots,” Bohon said. “It was insane. We really didn’t do any adjustments at all. They got to our rim and shot a bunch of layups in the first quarter. We just quit letting them get to the backcourt as easily and they didn’t make many baskets. It makes for an interesting semifinal score.”
Nick Masterson led River Ridge with 31 points, while Anthony Odem finished with 15 and Jon Karlin scored eight.
The boys will face Gilmer tonight at 8:30 p.m. The teams have met twice before with River Ridge winning each previous game easily.
Bohon knows that Gilmer won’t hand them the game, but when the teams last met in mid-January the final score was 70-53. In early January the score was 58-48.
“They’ve got one kid that’s not bad, but we’ll be there to play” Bohon said.