MILLVILLE — The Riverhawks retained its spot atop Region 12 by plastering Mountain Crest 62-33 Tuesday evening, but will have to sweat out an injury scare to one of their top players.
With 4:20 left in the third quarter, Ridgeline (17-2, 7-0 Region 12) forward Emma Anderson chased down Mustang (5-14, 0-7) guard Birkli Barrera on a fast break. Anderson wound up fouling Barrera on a layup and fell awkwardly, tweaking her left knee. Anderson left the game without being able to put any pressure on the knee and did not return to the bench for the remainder of the game.
Anderson, a senior, has averaged a double-double so far this season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. When she left, Anderson had seven points and 10 boards.
Despite the scare, Ridgeline head coach Ainsli Jenks was optimistic after the game regarding one of her top bigs.
“We’ll get her back going and hopefully she’ll respond and we’ll be OK,” Jenks said. “We’ll get her iced, get her calm and get her feeling healthy.”
Ridgeline built a double-digit lead late in the first quarter, finishing the quarter on a 9-0 run and a 15-4 lead — a lead they would build to as much as 31 in the course of the game. During that first-quarter run, the Riverhawks utilized a three-quarter court press and half-court trap, putting the pressure on the Mustangs with aggressive defense.
Playing hard defense is something Jenks has harped on all season, with it being a cornerstone of her team’s identity. That press is something she’s used to get the team’s energy up on that side of the ball.
“Our girls like to play a fast-paced, hard game,” Jenks said. “So I think that helps get them going, get them excited, get them moving around the floor.”
Defense turned itself into offense on a number of occasions, with Ridgeline getting 20 points off of turnovers. The Riverhawks were also able to do a lot of damage in the paint. As a team, they scored 32 points in the paint. They also had 15 assists on 20 made field goals.
“We’re a really fast team and we know how to share the ball,” Ridgeline forward Sarah Litchford said. “So whenever we penetrate, everyone collapses and it leaves the rest of us open inside.”
Getting to the paint was something MC head coach Megan Smith was hoping to take away from Ridgeline.
“They got to the basket the last time we played them pretty well, so that was kind of the idea behind (playing zone),” Smith said.
Mountain Crest was not afforded the luxury of paint attempts, scoring just 12 points inside all night. Ridgeline had four blocks on the night, several of which came via Litchford.
“That’s one of my main focusses is trying to stay low and almost be sneaky so I can bet blocks,” Litchford said, “and then once I do it, normally it helps decrease the amount of people driving, which is nice.”
With the paint often off-limits due to the stingy Ridgeline interior defense, the Mustangs ended up taking 28 of their 45 shots outside of the key, including 20 threes. MC made just five of those 28 non-paint attempts (17.9 percent).
Halle Livingston led the Riverhawks in scoring with 19 points. Haley Anderson added 10 points. In all, 10 Riverhawks finished with at least two points. Havyn Brown was the only Mustang in double figures. She finished with 11.
WOLVES 50, GRIZZLIES 42
With a rematch against first-place Ridgeline looming not too far away, the Wolves (16-2, 6-1) have kept themselves in a position to re-take the top spot in Region 12.
Defense was once again the driving force for Green Canyon, a team holding opponents to 44.9 points per game on average this season. Logan (11-8, 4-3) guard Amber Kartchner, Region 12’s leading scorer, managed just 12 points on 14 field goal attempts.
“We knew defense and controlling the rebounds were going to be keys to winning the game,” GC head coach Alexis Bird said. “The girls played excellent team defense, and Taylor (Hinds), Allee (McKenna) and Kennedy (Eskelson) did a great job at holding Kartchner to 12 points.”
For Logan, the loss snaps a three-game winning streak that had re-established the Grizzlies as a potential Region 12 contender. Now, with two losses to Ridgeline and a loss to Green Canyon, region title hopes have all but dissipated.
Mia Marin led the Grizzlies with 16 points, Taylor Rose had 10. Kennedy Eskelson and Shante’ Falslev led the Wolves with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
BOBCATS 55, BEARS 43
Sky View used a 15-8 first-quarter advantage to its benefit, holding the lead for the rest of the game and slowly building the eventual 12-point margin at the end of the game.
“Rebounding was key. We were able to keep them off the offensive glass and not give them those second-chance opportunities,” SV head coach Vanessa Hall said. “And then we had some good team play (on offense).”
The Bobcats (8-10, 3-4) have now all but assured themselves a playoff berth with the win. With three games remaining, one more win, or one loss from both the Bears (3-11, 1-6) and Mustangs locks the Bobcats into the playoffs.
And with Logan’s loss to Green Canyon, the three seed is within reach as well.
Kristen Schumann finished with 20 points and seven boards. Macy Hellstern had eight points to go with six steals.
INDIANS 35, BRUINS 26
It wasn’t pretty, but fourth-seeded Preston shined defensively and kept its season alive by knocking off visiting Twin Falls (9-14), the No. 6 seed, in a district tournament elimination game.
Preston (16-8) will now square off against Mountain Home (18-5) on Thursday night on the road for the district’s third and final spot in the 4A state tournament. The second-seeded Tigers beat the Indians, 69-63, on Nov. 10 at Mountain Home in the only matchup between the two teams this season.
“I was really happy that the girls stayed together and they ground it out and won, because we easily could have lost that game,” PHS head coach Kimber Hall said. “But we were definitely the better team, we just didn’t play good for all four quarters. ... We’ve got one more game and I think the girls know that it’s very important, and I think they’ll come back and play a lot better Thursday.”
Bethany Dow and Kylie Larsen accounted for 26 of Preston’s 35 points. Dow finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks, while Larsen netted 11 points. The Indians only went 2 of 9 from 3-point range, but Larsen buried 2 of 3 and they were “two crucial 3-point shots,” Hall asserted.
Preston missed nine of its 16 free throws, but Wood knocked down a pair late to help ice the game for the hosts. Wood contributed four assists for the Indians, who never allowed the Bruins to score more than eight points in any quarter.
HJ sports writer Jason Turner contributed to this report