Riverside girls come up short against No. 2 SE Raleigh
No. 19 Riverside missed critical free throws down the stretch that might have gotten the Pirates past No. 2 Southeast Raleigh in the state 4-A quarterfinals at the Crown Coliseum Thursday night.
“Free throws killed us,” Riverside senior Andrea’Anna Poole said. “We came back in the game. We came back. We had ’em, and we just let it slip.”
Southeast Raleigh won 57-47 and will play No. 5 Hillside on Saturday. The winner of that game gets to play for the state championship on March 15.
A potential title shot against PAC-6 rival Hillside was right there for the taking for Riverside.
The Pirates trailed Southeast Raleigh 33-21 at halftime, but Riverside finally started playing defense in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter, Pirates junior Yakima Clifton said.
“When we came together on defense, we started missing free throws and it killed us,” Clifton said.
“They were hitting their free throws, and we weren’t,” Poole said.
Riverside coach Alicia Jones said the Pirates this season struggled with their free throws but lately had been getting them to fall.
“It just didn’t come together tonight,” Jones said.
Southeast Raleigh’s Amber Richardson led all scorers with 19 points, and the Bulldogs got 15 points apiece from Jade Phillips and Alexus Hicks.
Zaria Rogers (10 points) was the only Riverside player in double figures.
Riverside junior center Moné Jones (6-3) managed just eight points and five rebounds — Clifton (9 points) led Riverside with 10 boards. Moné Jones had a target on her back, and she knew it, too.
“I felt like they were going to pull, grab and hold to try to stop me,” Moné Jones said. “I knew coming in it was going to be a physical game, because they like to play physical. You have to fight through that, and at some point it got to me — I’m not going to say it didn’t. It got to me.”
Southeast Raleigh coach Nicole Meyers said neutralizing Moné Jones was the Bulldogs’ game plan.
“Absolutely. She definitely was our main focus,” Meyers said. “Going into the game, we did not want to double-team her, because, I think, that would have led to some open 3-point shots.”
The Bulldogs fronted Moné Jones and depended on help-side defense to deal with her.
Moné Jones still was a menace, blocking three shots.
“You can never count this group out. Riverside made runs, and they gave us their best shot,” Meyers said. “We found a way to dig it out.
“It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win, so we’ll take it.”
Coach Jones took it pretty hard.
“Words can’t describe how we feel right now,” Coach Jones said. “It was in our reach, and we let it go.”
No. 2 SE RALEIGH 57, No. 19 RIVERSIDE 47
NCHSAA 4-A East Semifinals
Riverside 10 11 14 12 — 47
Southeast Raleigh 15 18 13 11 — 57
RIVERSIDE — Zaria Rogers 10, Andrea’Anna Poole 8, Yakima Clifton 9, Atlanta Woodall 1, Ajeya Murden-Boggan 2, Kiara Jacobs 3, Moné Jones 5.
SOUTHEAST RALEIGH — Jade Phillips 15, Ashlyn Jackson 2, Alexus Hicks 15, Amber Richardson 19, Taiyana Hill 1, Tiffany McCarter 5.
3-point FG — Riverside 2-8 (Poole 2-4); SE Raleigh 4-8 (Hicks 2-4, Richardson 2-3). Rebounds — Riverside 31 (Clifton 10, Jones 5, Poole 5); SE Raleigh 28 (Phillips 8). Assists — Riverside 4 (Rogers 3); SE Raleigh 8 (Hicks 5). Steals — Riverside 9 (Rogers 3); SE Raleigh 13 (Richardson 3, Hill 3, McCarter 3). Blocks — Riverside 5 (Jones 3); SE Raleigh 2 (Hicks, Hill). FG pct. — Riverside 17-44 (.386); SE Raleigh 20-41 (.488). FT pct. — Riverside 11-19 (.579); SE Raleigh 13-21 (.691). Turnovers — Riverside 19 (Jones 5, Poole 4); SE Raleigh 17 (Richardson 7).
Records — Riverside 19-9, SE Raleigh 25-2.