|Ridgeway's Ashley Jackson (left) and Odegua Oigbokie try to stop Briarcrest's Lauren Douglas from scoring|
At times the effort was less than crisp, maybe even a touch sleepy. Still, fourth-ranked Briarcrest, led by seniors Lauren Douglas and Dakota Doss, kept a young Ridgeway squad from getting untracked and advanced to the O'Ryan Christmas Tournament finals with a 48-36 win Tuesday at Harding.
The Saints (10-1) will meet Bartlett for the championship tonight at 6, followed by the boys final (Millington vs. Arlington) at 7:30. Bartlett beat Harding 59-42 behind Destiny James' 27 points.
Briarcrest's Douglass and Doss finished with 18 points apiece, had big first-half scoring bursts to help build a 28-14 lead at the break and solid fourth quarters to seal the victory.
"I slept in this morning -- to 9:30 -- and it took me a while to get really going," said Douglas, a Northwestern-bound center who had 10 first-half points and wound up with three blocked shots.
"I slept to 9:30, too. But we played good defense early, and that was a difference," said Doss, headed to North Alabama. The forward scored many of her points on short jumpers cutting through the lane.
Briarcrest coach Lee Smith's hackles rose a bit toward the end of the game, especially as Ridgeway's Odegua Oigbokie began to establish herself inside, scoring 10 of her team-high 14 points.
The junior's play inside helped the Roadrunners (5-2) cut the lead to single digits twice. And a three-pointer by freshman Breounna Humphrey -- Ridgeway's lone trey of the game, made it a 40-32 game with three minutes to play. But Doss and Douglas hit 10-of-11 free throws in the final eight minutes and scored six points apiece as the Saints shut the door.
"Our strength in the first half became our weakness later when we started letting them beat us on the defensive boards -- and Ridgeway's going to be a very good inside team as it matures," said Smith, whose team has won 10 straight since an opening loss to MHEA. "But overall I was pleased, especially with the defense we played early."
First-year Ridgeway coach Rhonda Kendall, whose team beat MHEA in the tournament's opening round, said "We never really got going today. We shot very poorly, and we're not normally that bad outside. But we were settling for outside shots and letting them pack the defense around our inside players. Second half, we started driving more to the basket and that opened things up a bit. But we're so young (75 percent of the roster is freshman-sophomore) ... we've got lots to learn."