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Monday, March 14, 2016

Central High Girls Fall in State Basketball Semifinals

From Commercial Appeal

The Central girls basketball team was forced to play catch-up all game long during Friday’s AAA state tournament semifinals. And it finally caught up with the Lady Warriors.

Hot-shooting Murfreesboro Riverdale surged into the championship game with an 80-58 victory at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center. Riverdale (31-4) will play Oak Ridge for the championship Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Lady Warriors, who were making their first appearance at state since 2013, end the year with a 35-3 record. Those 35 victories are the most of any AAA team in the state.

“We grew from the beginning of the year,” said senior Miyah Barnes. “We got better as a team.”

As they did in Wednesday’s quarterfinal victory over Wilson Central, the Lady Warriors ran up against a team that wore it out from the 3-point line early.

Riverdale — which tied a tournament record with 12 triples in its quarterfinal victory over Morristown West — connected on 5 of 6 3s to build a 20-7 lead after the first quarter.

Riverdale led 33-23 at the half, thanks to 65 percent shooting from the floor. The Lady Warriors, meanwhile, were struggling at just 28.1 percent and only led at one point in the contest, at 2-0.

Central kept chipping away and was within two midway through the third quarter when Jasmine Carson’s bucket made it 35-33. Riverdale, though, quickly pushed the lead back to 10.

Carson came up with a steal and a bucket that made it 44-36 with 2:16 to go in the third then got another steal that ended up with Brianna Cooks scoring to make it a six-point game.

But Riverdale answered with a 10-0 run to close out the quarter and instead of being down six or less heading into the fourth, Central was down 16.

“I think we exerted so much energy trying to get back into the game that we didn’t cherish each possession,” said Central coach Rashad Haynes. “We forced a lot of turnovers in the third quarter ... but we just couldn’t get that spurt.”

Riverdale coach Randy Coffman said he liked the way his team responded when Central dialed up the intensity.

“We really rebounded the ball well,” he said. “We forced them to take some long shots and we got some long rebounds. We play possession basketball, get the ball up and down the floor ... and we didn’t want to give (Central) any extra possessions.”

Central didn’t help matters with some questionable shot selection in the final two minutes of the third. Haynes said it was the one time this year when his freshman- and sophomore-heavy squad really showed its age.

“It’s not that we’re not ball players, we just didn’t step up,” he said. “Our inexperience showed. In a game like this, we needed everybody to be on their ‘A’ game.”

Barnes, a UAB signee, ended her high school career with a team-high 15 points. Carson added 14 and four steals while Jireh Washington chipped in with 12 points.

Alexis Whittington had 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting to lead Riverdale, which finished the game at 59.1 percent from the floor. Miss Basketball finalist Anastasia Hayes added 21 and six assists.

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