Friday, March 9, 2012

Riverdale ends Overton season again


You could forgive the Overton girls basketball program if they never wanted to hear the words "Murfreesboro Riverdale" again.

Riverdale ended the Lady Wolverines' season in the BlueCross AAA girls semifinals for the third consecutive year Friday, building a big early lead and then cruising to a 66-38 victory. The win puts Riverdale (32-3) in the state championship game for the third straight year today at 4 p.m. where it will face Johnson City Science Hill.

Overton -- which was playing in its fourth straight semifinal overall -- ends the year with a 30-3 mark.

"I don't feel like everybody came to play to today," said Overton guard Cornelia Fondren, who ended her career with a 12-point, six-rebound effort. "And I think we got away from our gameplan."

Overton fell into a big hole early and turnovers were the reason why. The Wolverines turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter and didn't score their first basket of the game until the 2:48 mark of the first period. By that point, the Lady Warriors had already scored 14.

Philecia Atkins hit a couple of 3-pointers to get them to within striking distance at the end of the quarter, but the tone for the game had already been set.

"We had 13 turnovers in the first half," said Wolverines coach Lynn Smith. "We were a little bit out of sync, and we didn't get into our offensive sets as well as we would have liked.

"And we also missed a few chippies that we'd normally make. When you get behind like that, you have to expend a lot of energy to get back into the game. We're a pressure defense team and a little fatigue started to set in."

Alexa Middleton, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 13 points for Riverdale, said, "We were just playing good defense. They had some turnovers and we were able to get into our transition game and knock down some shots."

Despite the terrible start, Overton trailed just 28-21 at the half, thanks in large part to a 26-18 advantage on the boards. But Riverdale went on a 14-4 run to start the third quarter to take control of the game. Middleton and Olivia Jones, who led Riverdale with 15 points, both made 3-pointers in that game-deciding spurt.

"We fed off their turnovers and we were able to make some shots in the second half," Riverdale coach John Wild said.

Atkins added 10 points for Overton, including both of the team's 3-pointers. Cortrice Golden had eight points and eight rebounds before leaving the game in the closing moments after coming down on another player's foot and tweaking her knee.

It simply wasn't Overton's day but Smith was proud of the effort, especially from Fondren, the Syracuse signee, who was still attacking the basket with vigor in the final minutes, despite her team being well behind.

"Cornelia Fondren is the best player I've ever coached," Smith said. "I'm sure she's going to go on and have a great college career. All of our seniors -- Cortice, Jasmine Stafford, Bri(ana) Neal, Megan (McCoughy) -- they just play so hard."

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