RIPLEY – Friday night in the Ripley High Health Center was Senior Night, but it was also the third game in five days for head coach John Kennedy’s Ripley Lady Vikings. Maybe it was mental fatigue from that slate, but for whatever reason, Ripley came out flat against the visiting Lady Warriors of Riverside. Luckily for Kennedy’s squad, they were able to shake off their doldrums in the fourth quarter and blasted their way to a 59-42 win.
“For the first three quarters, we played down to Riverside,” Kennedy said, “Those girls at Riverside are getting better, they’re still competing, and our girls came out flat. It’s been a tough week for us with three games in five days. We made some adjustments in the fourth there. We were just flat [in the first three quarters.]”
Given how the first three quarters played out, Ripley’s fourth quarter burst might have taken some by surprise. The Lady Vikings struggled to get into any type of rhythm offensively, allowing Riverside to take advantage. Ripley did outscore Riverside 14-9 in the first quarter, largely through the efforts of lone senior Audra Thomas and sophomore point guard Maggy Criser, who scored 12 of Ripley’s 14 points.
In the second quarter, the Lady Vikings’ inability to execute finally caught up with them. Riverside put together their best offensive quarter of the game, led by senior Carly Price’s eight points, outscoring Ripley 14-6. The Lady Warriors led at the half, 23-20.
“They ran a box and one against Audra,” Kennedy said, “I tried to keep making adjustments and run some different plays. Finally, the offense started working and got us back in the second half. In the first half, our guards just weren’t seeing our post players cutting. Riverside just couldn’t handle [our defensive] pressure in the fourth quarter.”
A back and forth third quarter began well for the Lady Vikings, as they scored four straight points early to regain the lead. The second half also saw contributions from freshman Tessa Ray, one of Ripley’s most versatile weapons. Ray had a huge blocked swat that started momentum at a critical time for the Lady Vikes. The rest of the quarter was a see-saw, with both teams trading baskets. Ripley outscored the Lady Warriors 13-11 in the quarter, but trailed 34-33 heading into the fourth.
Ripley’s offensive adjustments finally bore fruit in the fourth, as their full court pressure immediately paid dividends. Turnovers turned into easy baskets for Ripley, who went on an 8-0 run at the start of the quarter, taking the lead and control of the game. From that point on, Ripley continued to press the advantage. Sophomore Presley Fisher scored eight of her 13 points in the fourth, as the Lady Vikings held Riverside to just eight points total in the fourth quarter (scoring 26 of their own) to come away with the 59-42 win.
Criser led the way with a team high 20 points, followed by Thomas’ 15 points and 11 rebounds, her sixth straight double double. It was yet another strong performance for the senior, on Senior Night to boot, something that was not lost on Kennedy.
“Audra has been like a daughter to me,” Kennedy said of Thomas, “When we first started, I told her if we were going to right this ship, it was going to be with her. With her leadership, she has definitely taken us in the right direction. I can’t say enough about her.”
Fisher was next with 13, rounded out by Taylor Kennedy’s six points and Jeri Patterson’s four points. Price led all scorers with 22 points.
Team wise, the Lady Vikes finished 24 of 50 (48%) from the floor and 10 of 15 (66.7%) from the charity stripe.
The win was Ripley’s third of the week, which moved them to 11-6 on the year.
RIPLEY 53 – PT. PLEASANT 19
PT. PLEASANT – Ripley capped off four games in six days with a dominant 53-19 win on the road Saturday at Pt. Pleasant. It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams, with Saturday’s matchup going much the way of the first. In December 29th’s 74-17 win, the Lady Vikings jumped all over the Lady Knights with stifling defense. The story remained the same on Saturday, as the Lady Vikings were never threatened.
“We were able to get valuable minutes from a lot of different girls today,” Kennedy said, “ We were able to try some different rotations and it worked extremely well. It didn’t matter who was on the floor their effort was always there. We got off to a great start with our guards knocking down perimeter shots along with their defensive effort.”
Kennedy went with a shuffled lineup against Point, giving valuable minutes and experience to some of the younger Lady Vikes and they didn’t disappoint. Ripley led 19-0 after the first quarter, and added to the lead in the second by outscoring Point 13-3. With a 29-point halftime lead, Ripley continued to execute on both ends of the floor in the second half. The Lady Vikings finished strong to come away with the win, finishing the week 4-0. Freshman Ceirra Richardson led the way with 15 points, followed by Jaelyn Hunt’s 11 points. Rounding out the scoring for Ripley was: Tessa Ray, seven; Keston Smith, six; Makenzie Casto, five; Anna Kimble, five; and Jadyn Simon, four.
“I’m extremely proud of our bench the last couple games,” Kennedy concluded, “They have been engaged, cheering on their sisters and having fun the last two games than they have all season.”
Ripley (12-6) returns to action tonight on the road at Woodrow Wilson. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.