WOODHULL — The first two nights of the ninth annual Ridgewood Thanksgiving Tournament have been very good for the Riverdale and Orion girls’ basketball teams.
Both followed up opening-night victories with wins Tuesday evening. The Rams fended off a late Bushnell-Prairie City charge to earn a 45-41 victory; the Chargers spoiled United’s season opener with a 47-29 win.
“We needed a game like this early in the year,” said Riverdale coach Chris Mitchell. “What we had is a seasoned, well-coached team in BPC, which put it to us here last year. We can continue to grow in games like this. It only makes our young girls better.”
Holding a slim 27-26 lead entering the fourth, the Rams found themselves looking at their first deficit since the second period when the Lady Spartans’ Alyx Statler buried a 3-pointer to open the final quarter. After Riverdale regained the lead, Statler (9 points, 7 in the fourth period) buried another trey to knot the game at 33.
The Rams responded in a big way, with a Molly Sharp bucket and a Brooke Smeltzly 3-ball putting them up by five. They gradually stretched that lead to 42-35, their biggest since holding a nine-point advantage midway through the third quarter.
“I feel like we’re growing as a team,” said Riverdale sophomore forward Sidney Garrett, “and we’re getting better at communicating more.”
BPC had one more run left in it, though. Junior standout Madison Allen (17 points) was able to get to the foul line in the closing minutes and hit six straight free throws, the last two making it a 42-41 game with 42.3 seconds remaining.
But, with Garrett (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Smeltzly (8 points, 5boards) combining to score 13 fourth-quarter points, the Rams were able to finish for their 2-0 start.
Orion got all it could handle from the Red Storm for the bulk of its contest. After working their way to a 38-29 lead entering the final period, the Chargers stiffened defensively, shutting out United over the final eight minutes to clinch the win.
Led by a second straight 21-point night from junior guard Danielle Taets, Orion gave itself some breathing room by closing the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 25-18 halftime lead.
“We made a couple of shots, and we played better defense,” said Orion coach John McBride. “We were able to limit them to one shot, which was our goal. United played hard, made some shots and didn’t give up.”
The Red Storm got a jolt when Carly Thompson (13 points) capped a six-point first quarter by hitting a trey at the buzzer to bring her club within 10-8. United then went up 16-15 in the second period before Orion began its charge, retaking the lead and never relinquishing it.
Orion built a double-digit lead in the third period before a Kaylee Cornell 3-pointer late made it a seven-point game. However, a Cassidy Schultz bucket in the closing seconds prevented the Red Storm from building any momentum for the final quarter.
“We’re 2-0, but we were a little bit out of sync, trying to rush things too much,” said McBride. “We’re struggling a bit on offense in that we need to get everyone involved. We’ve got our work cut out for us the next two nights.”
Rockridge edges Ridgewood in opener: A Fran Letts bucket with 46 seconds capped a strong fourth quarter by the Rockridge Rockets as they opened their season with a 42-41 victory over tournament host Ridgewood.
After winning just twice last season, the Rockets are more than pleased to start a new year on a winning note. Letts’ 13 points led the way, with Mattie Henry adding 12 points.
“We’re halfway there. That’s what (assistant coach Haley MacDonald) said,” laughed Rockridge coach Shawn Strachan, whose club opened the fourth with a 9-2 run after trailing 32-27. “Our girls played with some toughness and desire tonight. It was a lot of fun to watch.”
However, the Spartans had a chance to come away with their first win when senior guard Carlie Barman was fouled as time expired. Barman finished with a game-high 18 points, but missed both of her foul shots as Ridgewood fell to 0-2.
“She’s taking it hard,” said Ridgewood coach Dawn Lewis. “She wants to have a successful season, and she’s working hard towards it. But, there’s not one thing in a game that wins or loses it. It’s multiple things.”
Mon-Rose earns its first win: Bouncing back from a nine-point setback to Knoxville on Monday, the Monmouth-Roseville Titans evened their mark at 1-1 by using a dominant second half to pull away to a 51-37 victory over Galva (0-2).
The Titans led just 15-13 after the first period, but stretched that slim edge to a 10-point halftime lead before taking off in the third quarter. A pair of Cora Neal 3-pointers helped fuel Mon-Rose as it opened up a 42-22 advantage going into the final eight minutes.
“Defensively, we played extremely well in the second and third quarter, holding Galva to four and five points (respectively),” said Mon-Rose coach Jim Cole. “We’re pretty young, so we’re going to be learning on the fly the first few weeks of the year.”
Carly Gillen paced the Titans with 18 points, while Brynn Patty led the Lady Cats with 13 points.