Ridge View’s girls basketball has been in this situation several times. The Blazers have four seniors who’ve continuously found ways to show they’re one of the best Class 4A teams around.
It happened again Friday night, when each of the four made the plays down the stretch to lead the fourth-ranked Blazers to a thrilling 52-49 victory over No. 8 Richland Northeast.
“Three players started as freshman and they won five games,” Ridge View coach Terrance Gibson said. “They’ve been in every situation as a team – we’ve been down by a lot, up by a lot and we’ve come back before. I think that experience really helped us tonight down the stretch.”
Laura Ajukwa led the charge with 14 points, but she had plenty of help from Armanii Grice (13 points), Erica Tisdale (12 points) and Narjai Beshear (9 points and 14 rebounds). It seemed like each made at least one play in the fourth quarter to keep the momentum in Ridge View’s favor.
The game was tied at 41-41 to open the fourth quarter, and Richland Northeast (11-4, 2-1) held its last lead at 46-45. Ajukwa scored on a jumper to give the Blazers the lead after 10 lead changes and two ties. Beshear added two free throws before Tisdale scored on a layup to make it 51-46 with 2:19 remaining.
The Cavaliers had a chance to tie when Ridge View (10-3, 3-0) missed twice on the front end of one-and-one chances in the final 20 seconds, but two errant 3-pointers in the final five seconds sealed it.
“We never lost our composure and made just enough plays at the end,” Gibson said. “I think that’s where some of our experience paid off.”
Richland Northeast stayed in it by hitting 10 of 15 3-point attempts during the first three quarters. Sharita Godfrey and Daisha Jackson each hit four, but in the fourth quarter the Cavaliers went cold from the field.
They went 0 for 5 on 3-point attempts and were 3 of 12 from the field overall with five turnovers.
“We drank a little bit of their Kool-Aid,” RNE coach Jabari Deas said. “They do a good job of speeding you up, and in parts of the game they did that to us, especially in the fourth quarter. We couldn’t get the looks we were getting earlier.”
Gibson thought the defensive presence in the fourth quarter was the difference.
“They were extremely hot and we talked about staying with the shooters and making them do something more than just shoot,” he said.
Godfrey led RNE with 17 points and Jackson added 15 as the Cavaliers had a six-game winning streak snapped.
RNE: Sharita Godfrey 17, Daisha Jackson 15, Drakes 5, A. Jackson 3, Britt 3, Brown 2, Windley 2, Toney 2. RV: Laura Ajukwa 14, Armanii Grice 13, Erica Tisdale 12, Beshear 9, Harts 2, Bolden 2.
Ridge View 48,
Richland Northeast 45
Wayln Napper scored 12 points and Darrien Johnson added 11 as the Blazers withstood a late rally by the Cavaliers.
Ridge View led by 45-39 with just less than two minutes remaining but only connected on 3 of 9 free throws to give Richland Northeast a chance. Three-pointers by James Fuller-Davis and Wilmoni Johnson brought the Cavaliers within one, but they missed three shots in the final 18 seconds.
RNE: Iman Goode 10, Fuller-Davis 8, Davis 8, Brockington 7, Robinson 6, Riley 3, Johnson 3. RV: Wayln Napper 12, Darrien Johnson 11, Contie 9, High 5, Rice 5, Fleming 3, Marshall 3.