Advantage Knights

Published 6:46 pm Saturday, February 18, 2012

Members of the Riverside girls’ basketball team and its coaching staff pose for a picture after beating Southside 53-47 in the Four Rivers Conference tournament championship game Friday at South Creek High School. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

ROBERSONVILLE — The Riverside-Southside Trilogy lived up to its billing on Friday as the Four Rivers Conference regular season co-champions slugged it out for the third time this season at South Creek High School only this time the conference tourney title and a No. 1 seed were on the line.
Intense physical play, high running emotions and questionable calls by the officials quickly became the hallmark of the third contest that literally featured blood, sweat and tears. In the end, it was the top-seeded Knights that stood victorious as they edged out the No. 2 Seahawks 53-47 to capture the Four Rivers Conference tourney title.
“It’s huge,” Riverside coach Hughes Barber said of the win. “I’m not 100 percent sure but I think this gives us the No. 1 seed overall (in the East). If it works out that way we would be home as long as we keep winning (up until the regional round).”
For Southside coach Bill Lake, who was without star point guard Katisha Hyman for most of second half because of foul trouble, the loss was a frustrating one.
“I’m disappointed we lost. My girls played their hearts out and played the best they could but situations didn’t allow the game to be played the way it should have,” Lake said. “(Hyman) got the fouls, we still played without her and we played well. We just really could have used her leadership down the stretch when it was nip-and-tuck.”
During the regular season the two teams split their meetings and headed into Friday night’s contest as co-conference champions with matching 24-2 records. By the end of the regular season ranked them the No.1 and No. 2 1-A teams in the state with Riverside sitting in the top spot.
The Seahawks would beg to differ with that poll and on Friday had a chance to prove the voters wrong but would end up trying to do so with Hyman, the reigning WDN Female Basketball Player of the Year, playing only 33 seconds in the second half.
After scoring four points in the first quarter to lead Southside to a 17-10 lead Hyman drew her third foul of the game midway through the second quarter. Despite having the senior point guard on the bench for a large chunk of that quarter the Seahawks managed to hold on to their lead and went into halftime up 30-22.
Hyman was out on the court to start the second half but drew her fourth foul on a questionable charging call less than five seconds into the third quarter.
With Hyman on the pine for the remainder of the third, Southside hung tough as the trio of Chante Painter, Deandre Purdue, Kyajia Mourning were fantastic but had trouble slowing down the speedy Riverside guards.
Painter and Mourning would each score a team-high 11 points.
With Southside reeling, the Knights seized the opportunity as sophomore point guard Jalyn Brown racked up eight third-quarter points while forward Shaquala Armstrong added six to outscore the Seahawks 16-7 in the third quarter to take a 38-37 lead at the start of the fourth.
Brown would lead the Knights with 22 points and went 5-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 47 seconds of the game while sophomore D’aysa Wilson added nine.
The heat of the battle hit its boiling point at the 6:49 mark in the fourth when Hyman entered the game for Painter who had sustained an injury. Hyman’s second appearance in the second half would last only 29 seconds longer than her first as she was whistled for her fifth and final foul while trying to get her hands on the ball as Jo’Neka Brown lay on the ground with it.
During the play it appeared Hyman had cleanly attempted to get the ball but the officials did not see it that way, which sent Lake into a technical foul-earning frenzy.
“She got down on her knees and went over to tie the girl up and the official assumed she laid down on her when didn’t. It is what it is.” Lake said. “I was very angry that they made that call because I didn’t think it was a fair call especially given the past couple of plays where they had missed calls that were way worse than that.
“I was mad. Our players were a little flat and I needed to jack them up. I was quite under control and I knew I was going to get a technical but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.”
With Painter playing hurt and Hyman on the bench the Seahawks still found themselves tied at 42 with the Knights with five minutes left in the game but where outscored 11-5 down the stretch.

Southside    17    13    7    10    –    47
Riverside    10    12    16    15    –    53
Seahawks (47)
Hyman 5, Chante Painter 11, Deandrea Purdue 11, Morning 6, Hardy 4, Ruffin 2, Tisdale 4, Harris 2, Clark 3.
Knights (53)
Wilson 9, Wynn 3, Little 4, Armstrong 6, Jalyn Brown 22, Rodgers 6, Brown 3.