Freshman Kayla Jones leads Riverside to the Final FourPublished 1:06am Saturday, March 8, 2014
Head coach Kirby Maness and the Riverside girls basketball team sit one win away from the Class 1-A championship game after a 28-point rout of Pamlico County in the fourth round of the state tournament on Friday.
The Lady Knights established their presence early with the signature full-court press, forcing turnovers and crippling the Hurricanes rhythm.
“We generate a lot of our offense coming out of our press,” Maness said. “We make sure we’re moving and constantly putting pressure on teams from the start of the game to the end. We throw a lot of different looks at people. We have very talented girls that move very quickly and cause a lot of pressure.”
Pamlico had no answer, as senior captain Jayln Brown and the relentless Knights defense converted turnovers into fast-break points. Kayla Jones took advantage of the rampant turnovers in the first half with 19 points, and Riverside entered the locker room with a commanding 41-22 lead.
The gritty first half defense resulted in early foul trouble for starters Brown, Jones and senior D’asya Wilson, but Takwana Bland’s 15 points off the bench provided enough of a cushion for Maness to mix and match in the second half.
“From our perspective, we still didn’t play the type of defense we needed to play,” Maness said. “We were reaching and had way too many fouls. We didn’t do a good job at getting back in transition at times.”
The Riverside underclassmen stole the show in the first half, but a big third quarter from the senior leaders solidified the victory for the Knights, 77-49.
Jones finished with 30 points, tying a career-high, while Brown ended with 9. Junior Morgan Andrews led the Hurricanes with 12 points.
With the win, Riverside remains unbeaten and advances to the Final Four of the state tournament.
“We’re going to get back to the drawing board,” Maness said. “We’re going to go back tomorrow and we’re going to get a little practice in and work on controlling that ball. Going forward, every single possession is going to be important. It’s one of those things that you get into a close ballgame, that’s the difference between winning and losing.”