Round IV was a battle.
Top-ranked Riverdale fought past fourth-ranked Blackman on Wednesday night, beating the Lady Blaze 61-49 for the Region 4-AAA region title and its fourth win over the Lady Blaze this season.
“Blackman is good,” said Riverdale junior Shelbie Davenport, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “They are young, but they are good. Every time we play them, it’s probably going to get closer and closer –just because it’s harder every time.”
Riverdale (31-0) extended its win streak to 54 straight games, and is one win away from tying its previous streak of 55 that Blackman snapped in 2011.
The Lady Warriors host White County (21-12) at 7 p.m. Saturday in a TSSAA Class AAA sectional. Blackman (26-4) travels to third-ranked Bradley Central (28-2) in its sectional. Bradley Central defeated White County 53-42 in the Region 3-AAA championship.
All sectional winners advance to next week’s TSSAA BlueCross Girls Basketball State Championships held Wednesday-Saturday at Middle Tennessee State University.
Riverdale has won the past four region titles. The Lady Warriors are ranked second nationally by MaxPreps and ESPN Hoopgurlz.
Miss Basketball finalists Alexa Middleton and MTSU signee Olivia Jones added 13 apiece for Riverdale. MTSU signee Tyisha Petty added 10.
Freshman Crystal Dangerfield led Blackman with 17 points. Sophomore teammate Alex Johnson added 12 and junior Micah Norris had nine.
Riverdale methodically built a 13-point lead entering the fourth quarter to appear to grab control. But Blackman stormed back with seven unanswered. Johnson converted a three-point play to open the scoring. Dangerfield hit two free throws and Angel Allen had a layup to trim it to 45-39 with 5:59 left.
“There was a lot of tension,” said Jones, referring to the physical nature of the contest. “We just had to keep playing and stay calm and realize that every game isn’t going to be a blowout.”
Players scrambled for loose ball during the night. Davenport was called for a reach-in foul at one point, but received an elbow to the head as Morgan Miller kept a rebound for her.
“We expected it to be a big-time battle,” Blackman coach Chad Hibdon said. “And our kids were up to the challenge. Every time Riverdale made a play, or nice run, we did too.
“They didn’t get that magical two or three runs like they normally do.”
Riverdale, which hit just 2-of-20 from the 3-point line, ended the Lady Blaze run with a Shanique Heard layup. But Blackman wasn’t done. Norris made it 53-46 with 1:55 left.
“We’ve got really good shooters — we’ve got great shooters,” Riverdale coach Cory Barrett said. “You can’t tell great shooters to quit shooting just because you have an off night. You have to find other ways to win.
“And we did that.”
Riverdale hit 4-of-6 free throws over the next 48 seconds to boost it to 57-46. Middleton tapped a ball away from Dangerfield into Petty’s hands for a fast break layup to push it to 59-46 to put it out of reach.
Riverdale 61, Blackman 49
Blackman 13 10 9 17 — 49
Riverdale 12 17 16 16 — 61
Blackman: Norris 9, Pollock 3, Allen 5, Dangerfield 17, Johnson 13, Bond 2.
Riverdale: 23, Petty 10, Middleton 13, Jones 13, Heard 2.