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Monday, March 13, 2017

Houston girls fall to Riverdale in AAA semifinal

Article from Commercial Appeal

For 16 minutes, the impossible looked possible Friday at the Murphy Center.

Houston, playing in the state semifinals for the first time in school history, went toe-to-toe with mighty Murfreesboro Riverdale and played them to a virtual standstill at halftime. But the Warriors took control of the game in the third quarter before eliminating the Mustangs, 69-50, in the AAA semifinals.

Riverdale (33-0), which is ranked No. 1 in the USA Today national rankings, will play for its second consecutive championship Saturday at 1 p.m. against Central, which ousted Dickson County earlier in the day.

The most successful season in Houston history ends 28-4.

"We're only losing three seniors," said first-year coach Ben Moore. "We started three sophomores and a freshman today so we have a chance to be back here.

"The run this team made through the region tournament was special. I knew we had a talented team but I didn't see that toughness until the region. With a first-year coach, they had to figure out a lot of things on the fly."

Despite shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor, Houston led by as much as five in the first half and trailed just 26-23 at the break. That was due in large part to the fact that Riverdale was even colder from the floor (27.8) percent.

But the Warriors scored the first nine points out of the gate to take a 35-23 lead and Houston never threatened. Brinae Alexander did most of the damage, hitting two free throws before converting a 3-point play and knocking down a nice jumper.

Alexander finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds to lead Riverdale.

"We knew somebody was going to make a run," said Moore. "We just hoped it would be us."

Said Riverdale coach Randy Coffman, "They stretched us out some in the first half and we got in a little trouble. I was telling them about 20 different things to do (defensively). We got big, decided we wanted to defend and get out and be Riverdale."

Miss Basketball winner Anastasia Hayes added 15 for Riverdale, which made 13 of 22 shots (59.1 percent) in the second half. Alexis Whittington chipped in with 12.

"We wanted to get them back," said Houston's Madison Griggs, whose team lost to Riverdale in a Christmas tournament last season. "But they're quick. They shoot the ball well and rebound."

Freshman Destinee Wells had 20 to lead Houston while Griggs and Miss Basketball finalist Jayla Hemingway finished with 9 apiece. Houston never did get its shooting stroke cranked up and ended the game 20 of 56 (35.7 percent).

"They went to that 1-3-1 and that really bothered us," said Moore. "We weren't very patient and we couldn't get buckets."

Houston (50) — Melisa Carter 2, Shaela Gardner 6, Madison Griggs 9, Jayla Hemingway 9, Rochelle Lee 2, Kennedy Maclin 2, Destinee Wells 20.

Riverdale (69) — Brinae Alexander 21, Anastasia Hayes 15, Aislynn Hayes 8, Amanda Whittington 5, Alexis Whittington 12, Alasia Hayes 7, Jalyn Holcomb 1.

Records — Houston 28-4, Riverdale 33-0.

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