MURFREESBORO – Just five days after losing to Riverdale, Oakland defeated the Lady Warriors in the District 7-AAA semifinals Saturday.
The third-seeded Lady Patriots advanced to the District 7-AAA championship game with a 57-52 victory over second-seeded Riverdale, avenging Monday’s loss in the regular season.
“It feels great,” said Oakland guard Paris Lawson, who scored 12 points. “This is what all the blood, sweat and tears were for. (In the loss) we couldn’t do anything right. This game, we wanted to do everything that we didn’t do the other game.”
The Lady Patriots took control of the game with an 11-1 run in the third quarter. The score was tied 32-32 after Riverdale had overcome an 11-point early deficit.
“It’s a game of runs,” Oakland coach Jennifer Grandstaff said. “We knew with Riverdale, it’s always going to be a battle. When they made their run, we had an answer for it. I thought the other night (in Monday’s loss) that when they made runs we didn’t have an answer.”
Oakland (23-5) will play against Blackman for the district championship Monday, while Riverdale (22-7) will play Smyrna in the consolation game against Smyrna. All four teams will also play in the Region 4-AAA tournament next week at Smyrna.
The Lady Patriots were effective getting the ball in the paint to Shelby Gibson and Abby Wright from the start of the game. Wright led the Lady Patriots with 17 points, including five in the first quarter. Gibson scored 13 for Oakland.
“Any time Shelby Gibson catches the ball there in the paint, she’s probably going to score,” Riverdale coach Cory Barrett said. “If not, she’s going to get fouled, and it’s usually both. You try to limit her opportunities, and we didn’t do a very good job of that.”
Behind the strong play of Gibson and Wright, Oakland started the game with an 11-0 lead. Riverdale only managed to connect on 1 of 12 shot attempts in the first quarter.
“We looked out of sorts,” Barrett said. “That’s very unlike us in the past few weeks, we’ve been playing well. I was very surprised by that.”
Riverdale cut Oakland’s lead to one by halftime, 26-25, outscoring the Lady Patriots 19-10 in the second quarter. The 32-32 tie was the only time in the game when the score was tied.
The Lady Patriots outscored Riverdale 11-1 to close out the quarter and take a 43-33 lead which they never relinquished.
Alexis Whittington made every effort to try to pull her team back into the game. She scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including two 3-pointers, to trim Oakland’s lead. Whittington led all scorers with 23 total points.
Oakland was only able to convert 4 of 9 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. The Lady Warriors were able to cut the gap to four in the final seconds, but could get no closer.
Riverdale missed several high-percentage shots in the paint and the Lady Patriots were able to grab the rebounds off the missed shots and prevent second-chance opportunities.
“It wasn’t very pretty at the end, but we held on,” Grandstaff said.
Oakland girls 57, Riverdale 52
Oakland 16 10 17 14 — 57
Riverdale 6 19 8 19 — 52
Oakland: Abby Wright 17, Shelby Gibson 13, Paris Lawson 12, Ansley Eubank 10, Hannah Eaglen 3, Aaliyah Patterson 2.
Riverdale: Alexis Whittington 23, Jasmyne Hurd 11, Anastasia Hayes 9, Dajah Messenger 5, Brinae Alexander 4.