Riverdale is in the midst of one of its best seasons in school history, a season that inclucludes an outright North Central Conference championship. Yet, the Falcons' dream season almost went up in smoke Saturday night at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Brian Lester checks in with a preview of the Lady Falcons district semifinal
ELIDA – Riverdale is in the midst of one of its best seasons in school history, a season that inclucludes an outright North Central Conference championship.
Yet, the Falcons' dream season almost went up in smoke Saturday night at the Elida Fieldhouse.
Riverdale trailed Lima Central Catholic 30-27 at halftime in a Division III sectional final. Rather than cave, the Falcons rallied behind a tenacious defensive effort to prouduce a 52-40 victory.
The result should hardly come as a surprise. After all, staying composed is nothing new for Riverdale, which will battle Evergreen in an 8 p.m. district semifinal Thursday night at Findlay High.
“We have done a good job of keeping our composure all season,” Riverdale head coach MaryAnn Holderman said. “We are used to playing with pressure and we were able to overcome our deficit and get the job done.”
It really isn't a surprise that Riverdale is still around in the postseason. It was the top offensive team in the NCC this year, largely due to the fact that the Falcons have several go-to players.
Against LCC, the Falcons had three players in double figures, led by the 20-point effort of Kayla Brown. Brown came into the tilt averaging 13.8 points per game for a Riverdale team that averages 60.6 ppg.
Kelli Kotterman and Amy Fox stepped up big as well against the Thunderbirds, dropping in 13 and 10, respectively as Riverdale overcame a 42.9 percent showing from the field to knock off LCC. Kotterman came in averaging 11.5 ppg.
“We feel like we have a very balanced basketball team and that has been a big part of our success,” Holderman said. “We have different players who are capable of having big games. Kayla did a nice job of leading the way and Kelli stepped up, too. Amy hit two big threes for us in the third quarter that helped us take control.”
Riverdale led 40-36 heading into the fourth and never looked back, limiting the Thunderbirds to just 4 points in the final period.
LCC managed to shoot just 36 percent against Riverdale and turned the ball over 12 times.
It was a typical defensive effort by the Falcons, who allow just 37.5 points per outing and force 22 turnovers per game. Their defense was the second best in the NCC this year.
“We pride ourselves on playing hard on defense,” Holderman said. “I thought we did a good job of switching defenses against LCC and that proved to be a big difference in the game. We made it very difficult for them to shoot, which they had a lot of success doing in the first half.”
The Falcons did a solid job on the boards as well, pulling down 30 in the win, including 8 on the offensive glass. They average 19.3 per outing.
“We really got after the offensive boards in the second half and it paid off,” Holderman said. “Our ability to rebound the ball much better late in the game gave us a big lift.”
The Falcons know they could have easily stumbled against LCC. But the tournament is about survival, even if the wins aren't always pretty. Holderman will tell you, however, that her team will need to play much better to keep their season going.
“Give LCC credit. They played hard,” Holderman said. “We were sloppy at times but fortunately we found a way to win. We just have to focus on our next game and be ready to play. You have to come ready to play every night in the tournament if you want a chance to win.”