MURFREESBORO – The game between Class AAA’s top-ranked squads lived up to the billing Friday night.
Top-ranked Blackman withstood a fourth-quarter charge by second-ranked Riverdale, winning 56-48 at Johnny Parsley Memorial Gymnasium.
“It was a great atmosphere with two competitive teams fighting to stay on top of the district,” Blackman girls coach Chad Hibdon said. “That’s really what it comes down to. In our district, you are really going to be challenged. You are going to be challenged different ways.
“They are very athletic, great team. That team right there is very physical and has a lot of fight in them. We were fortunate to make enough plays down the stretch to win.”
Blackman (14-2, 4-0 in 7-AAA) led by as many as 17 points in the first quarter.
“We started off strong,” MTSU signee Alex Johnson said. “Like our coaches were telling us, we always start strong and we nail them. But then we kind of back off and let them in.”
Riverdale (15-3, 2-1) eventually whittled it down to two points with just over six minutes left in the game on Anastasia Hayes’ inside basket.
“We had our chances,” Riverdale coach Cory Barrett said. “I was very pleased with our effort. We have to get better. We made a lot of youthful mistakes.
“Blackman did what they were supposed to do. They responded.”
Specifically, KK Williams responded.
Williams scored on an inside bucket to push the lead to four with 5:43 remaining. The Lady Blaze then scored back-to-back buckets off turnovers. UConn commitment Crystal Dangerfield scored off a layup then Williams put back a shot to make it 50-42 with 3:55 left.
All five Blackman starters finished in double digits. Tennessee signee MeMe Jackson led Blackman with 13 points. Dangerfield added 12, Williams had 11 and seven rebounds, Johnson had 10 points had nine points and Jazz Bond had 10 points had seven rebounds.
Hayes, a sophomore, led all scorers with 23 points. Freshman teammate Alexis Whittington added 15 points.
The win was the Blaze’s fourth straight over Riverdale, including three a year ago.