Riverdale’s C’Dara Manuel and Yasmeen Chang took over for the Raiders girls basketball team in the District 7A-12 championship game against Gulf Coast when it mattered most.
Manuel was strong under the rim, coming up with a few critical layups in the fourth, and Riverdale beat the Sharks 65-60 on Friday night at Gulf Coast High School.
Riverdale (16-10) fell behind by 11 points early in the third quarter, and came back late in the game to win it.
Manuel and Anna Presson made big layups in the final 1 ½ minutes to help win it.
Chang scored 31 points to lead all scorers and Manuel had 19.
“These kids never give up. They always persevere,” Riverdale coach Bill McChesney said. “Our experience was the difference tonight. We have learned how to play the game by now, and everyone has learned what their roles are. Right now, we are peaking at the right time.”
Claire Belfore scored 22 for Gulf Coast. Rhegan Venvertloh also had 20.
Riverdale faces Bradenton Lakewood Ranch at home in the Region 7A-3 quarterfinals Thursday.
“We came up against a good shooting team tonight. We did a good job handling their offense,” McChesney said. “It was a nip-and-tuck game. Either team could have won it.”
The Sharks did not learn well from their previous two win over the Raiders earlier this season.
“You know what they say, it’s hard to beat a team three times,” Gulf Coast coach Mark Woodruff said. “We got outworked in the second half. We did a good job of limiting Riverdale to one shot at times and focused well on Chang. But Riverdale was really good rebounding in the second half.”
The first quarter was mostly close, but the Raiders began to pull away in the final two minutes. Chang had 12 points in the first, including an easy layup after she pulled off a wild steal.
The Sharks went on a 25-7 tear in the second quarter. Incredibly, the Sharks held the Raiders to only seven points in the second, all on free throws. Venvertloh and Claire Belfore both canned 3-pointers in the final minute, staking Gulf Coast to a 35-24 halftime lead.
Gulf Coast continued its hot perimeter shooting in the third, but Chang also got hot and Manuel score eight points underneath the glass while the Raiders hung close. Gulf Coast led Riverdale 50-46 after three quarters.