Eastern Wake: Sports

Riverside girls too intense for Knightdale in 2nd playoff round

The Riverside girls’ basketball team rode an explosive first quarter to a dominant 70-44 win over Knightdale in the second round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs on Monday.

Yakima Clifton hit a trio of 3-pointers and the No. 3-seed Pirates’ defense held the Knights scoreless for the game’s first 4:30 as Riverside (22-2) surged to a 26-8 lead after the first quarter. It proved to be a lead the hosts would preserve throughout the night en route to the 26-point victory.

Riverside coach Alicia Jones said her team, despite playing its second game in 48 hours after not practicing for two weeks, began the game on task.

“The goal was to get (Knightdale’s defense) moving. We felt like we could control the pace of the game if we attacked more and got quickly to the free-throw line,” she said.

Jones’ team had no issue getting to the line, as 14th-seeded Knightdale (17-8) committed 13 fouls in the first half. Riverside reached the bonus before the first quarter ended and went 9-for-14 on first-half free throws.

Knightdale coach Trent Bunn took the blame for the struggles his team experienced.

“We should have made adjustments to the way the refs were calling it and we didn’t,” he said. “The girls gave it their all (but) I got out-coached.”

The Pirates cruised through the remainder of the game, leading 42-22 at halftime and 59-32 after the third quarter, for their second consecutive playoff win by 20-plus points. Riverside defeated Winterville South Central 75-55 in the first round on Saturday.

Four Riverside players hit double-digits for the game: Ariel Wilson (16 points), Clifton (15), Mone Jones (14) and Zaria Rogers (10). All of Wilson’s scoring came on 2-point field goals.

Lovely Locklear led the Knights with 16 points. Mikaya Wilson erupted for 12 points in the second quarter and finished with 14, and Melody Prichard added 10.

Bunn praised Riverside’s performance.

“They came out of the gate on fire,” he said. “They were definitely the better team tonight. We scouted them well, we had all their tendencies down, (but) we just didn’t match their intensity.”

The Pac-6 conference champions will host 6th-seeded Athens Drive at home on Tuesday. The two teams have already met this season, with Riverside winning in an 83-55 rout on Nov. 21.

“There is no tweaking of anything right now. We can only play our game,” Jones said.