Friday, March 7, 2014

Ridgeway girls head to state title game in basketball

From Commercial Appeal

With adversity mounting by the minute, the Ridgeway girls basketball team could have easily folded Friday at the Murphy Center.

Instead, the Roadrunners will be playing for the state championship.

Eryn Foster scored inside with 3.7 seconds left to give them a heart-stopping 52-50 victory over Clarksville Rossview in the semifinals of the BlueCross AAA state tournament. The victory sends Ridgeway (30-3) to the title game for the first time in school history, where it will face the No. 1 team in the nation according to USA Today and MaxPreps, Murfreesboro Blackman.

“I’m excited,” said Roadrunners guard Brandi Beasley. “I’m looking forward to it. I trust in my team.”

Added coach Rhonda Kendall, “This has been our goal all year, through district and region. To make it to the state tournament and to win it.”

The Roadrunners, who had won only one state tournament game in school history before this week, played well in the first half and led the Lady Hawks at the break, 29-20.

But that’s when the trouble started.

Foster and Tierney Paylor both picked up their fourth fouls early, with Paylor fouling out late in the third quarter. And to make matters worse, star senior Ashley Jackson left the game midway through the third with an ankle injury and did not return.

All that allowed Rossview (28-4) to climb back into the game, eventually taking a 44-39 lead with five minutes to go.

“Losing Ashley was major,” said Kendall. “But I challenged them, ‘Do you want this?’ They played for Ashley.”

Said junior Oreona Brown, “We needed leaders to step up. We couldn’t put our heads down (because) Ashley went out.”

Ridgeway trailed 46-43 with 3:49 to go when Alexus Bryson connected on a 3-pointer to tie it. Beasley, who led the Roadrunners with 17, then came up with a steal and a layup to give her team the lead.

Janie White, who led Rossview with 24, scored inside and was fouled with 1:16 to go but missed the free throw, leaving it tied at 50. Ridgeway worked the clock for the last shot and got it in close to Foster, who missed.

But Bryson sneaked in for the offensive board and fed it back to Foster, who didn’t miss a second time. Brown then came up with a steal at midcourt to finish off Rossview once and for all.

“My goal was to stay positive,” said Foster, a 6-2 sophomore who finished just 2 of 8 from the floor. “There were some uncalled fouls and my teammates were telling me to keep my head up and stay focused.”

Said Kendall, “If there was anyone that would get that (rebound) it would be Bryson. She’s been sick — she actually went to the emergency room the day we left — but she gave us great minutes.”

Brown and Jackson each had eight points for Ridgeway, which shot 43 percent and out-rebounded the Lady Hawks 34-24. Junior Kendra Boone gave the team valuable minutes with Paylor and Foster in foul trouble, finishing with five points and six boards.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.