CHARLESTON - It may not sting so much if Riverside (7-17) had dealt a dagger in the form of a “Keith Smart” style last second shot for the win.
Yes, like the play the former Indiana University guard executed to give the Hoosiers a NCAA National Championship in a game versus Syracuse in the finals of 1987.
For three quarters, the teams traded leads and Ripley led by a single point at the half, 20-19 in AAA Region 3 Section 1 action.
What stings is that the winless Lady Vikings (0-23) were down 40-39 with possession after a timeout with 15 ticks on the clock and time to draw up their play, take a deep breath and execute.
One had a feeling the ball would end up in the hands of Ripley’s hot shooters on the evening. On this night, it could have been Sarah Williams, Chelsey Hager or Jade Donohew who had drilled a couple of tough shots on the baseline.
What happened next passed so quickly that if you blinked, you could have missed it.
Riverside coach Scott Garretson took a chance and made a chess move that could have backfired. During that timeout, he sent in the tallest girls on the squad. The lineup of “bigs” could have potentially been targets to be beaten off the dribble by Ripley.
“We definitely wanted our girls to take the ball to the hole,” said Ripley coach Justin Frashier.
After the ball was inbounded, Riverside naturally pressed. As precious seconds had elapsed, the lady Vikings attempted a 10-footer that was blocked by Lady Warrior Brittany Wood.
The ball bounced back to the hands of Ripley guard Chelsey Hager as she was swarmed in a sea of purple and was unable to get off another shot before time expired.
Senior guard Jillian Mullins was not in uniform as she is out for the season with a knee injury.
Ali Cunningham, the lone Lady Viking senior on the floor and a defensive stalwart, reflected on the disappointing loss.
“The ending to our game and season Monday evening was heart wrenching. It is so difficult to take a loss and especially when we were so close to winning.” She added, “After the game I was upset my season was over and it had to end but ultimately I was thankful for being given the opportunity to walk off the court one more time with my teammates, family, coach Frasier and coach Kennedy.”
Ripley was led by Hager’s 18, Williams netted 10, Donohew had six, Killi Poling four and Kacie Whitney two.
Riverside was paced by Wood’s 14 and standout freshman Julie Bishop’s 12.
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