The scoreboard read Rocky Mountain 54, Riverside 40, when the buzzer sounded at the end of the Rebel-Grizzly ball game in Basin Friday night. But the game was actually much closer than the score indicated.
The Grizzlies shot their way to an 18-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and that was the big difference. Although the Rebels rallied and cut the 11-point lead to four points, and then two later in the game, the Rebels could never get out of the 11-point hole.
“It was actually a tight ballgame,” said Coach Sam Buck. “We thought we could pressure them; we tried some things we had been working on, but we gave up too many easy buckets early on. I pulled the press off quickly.”
With Emily Crouse out of the lineup due to illness, and Emmy Reid coming back off an injury and playing on a limited basis, the Rebels were shorthanded. “I knew that everyone would have to step up, and in the second quarter we battled to get back in the game.” By halftime the deficit had been cut to 24-19.
The Rebels went on to cut the deficit to two points, but as time was winding down in the fourth quarter, “in the last couple of minutes we got more desperate, fouled….” The Grizzlies took advantage of their trips to the foul line and walked away with the victory.
“We were already shorthanded, then we got in foul trouble and had to shuffle girls in and out. But with all that we still gave ourselves a chance to win late in the game.”
Junior Kelby VanDeest “had an unbelievable game,” Buck said. “She scored a lot of points, but she was very efficient. She hits the 3s, but was taking it to the rim pretty hard and getting to the free-throw line. She just had a great all-around game. And Breana (Riley) is continuing to step up. She helped us out big time in the Rocky game. ”
Although disappointed with the loss, Buck was very proud of his team’s performance.
It was a different story at Dayton Saturday. “I was feeling pretty good (going in); the last time we met Tongue River I thought we should have won it; we got on top early but let them hang around and before we knew it they had the lead and we never got it back.”
“I thought we had an advantage going in; I thought if we played solid we could pressure them. But we didn‘t execute at all. We gave up easy baskets and had to pull the pressure off. (For some reason) our team was not playing well together.”
Tongue River took the 15-7 lead (thanks go some Rebel free throws or it would have been worse). A last quarter 21 points by the Eagles gave them the 51-24 win.
“We were actually playing for the third seed in the West Regional tournament, ” Buck said. If the Rebs had beaten the Eagles, they would most likely have ended the conference schedule in a tie for third and fourth, necessitating a coin toss to determine seeding. “It was a missed opportunity for sure.”
“I was disappointed in the lack of energy, especially coming off the good game against Rocky. We played up to the competition against Rocky, but down to the competition at Tongue River. We have to learn to play with a high effort whether it’s against a top team or a bottom team. I don’t think anyone played particularly well at Tongue River.”
Riverside will close out the conference season in Greybull Friday night taking on the conference champion Buffs at 2:30 and 5:30.
Saturday the Rebels close out the regular season at home against 1A St. Stephens. It will be Senior Night. Honored will be Emmy Reid, Brittni Miller, Hannah Coy and Rebel manager Carlene Brown. They will be recognized following the girls’ varsity game that tips off at 2:30.
Riverside 40, Rocky Mountain 54
Riverside 7 12 12 9 – 40
RMHS 18 6 13 17 – 54
RIVERSIDE: Kelby VanDeest 6 5-10 20; Breana Riley 2 4-5 9; Valeria DeNiz 0 3-4 4. Hannah Coy 0 2-2 2. TOTALS: 8 33 7-18 40.
3-POINT GOALS: VanDeest 3, Riley. REBOUNDS: 25 (VanDeest 7, Riley 5). ASSISTS: 6 (Riley 4). STEALS: 5 (Riley 2). TURNOVERS: 22.
Riverside 24, Tongue River 51
Riverside 9 7 4 4 – 24
Tongue River 15 6 9 21 – 51
RIVERSIDE: VanDeest 5 4-11 14; Riley 1 4-9 6; DeNiz 0 4-4 4. TOTALS: 6-34 12-26 24.
REBOUNDS: 24 (Riley 8, VanDeest 8). ASSISTS: 2. STEALS: 7. TURNOVERS: 27.
By Marlys Good