MILLVILLE — A strong third quarter defensively, and especially offensively, helped the Ridgeline girls to their first win of the season, 51-36, over Syracuse.
Though it took last year’s 4A title runner-ups four games to finally notch a win, it’s not really a huge surprise that the Riverhawks (1-3) were in such a position. In the first three games, two of the Ridgeline opponents were 6A teams that, as of Friday morning, were a combined 7-1 to start the year.
Friday’s matchup with Syracuse didn’t offer any respite from that brutal schedule trend as the Titans walked into the gym undefeated at 5-0. But three games of lessons learned through loss came to the Riverhawks’ aid.
“We’ve battled a couple of really good teams,” Ridgeline head coach Ainsli Jenks said. “Copper Hills and Fremont are two of the top 6A teams in the state. We played them well, battled hard, they’re great teams and coming in (to tonight) we told the girls: ‘You’ve been battle-tested, you’ve played hard teams. If you guys work together, play team ball, play for each other you guys will be successful.”
Those lessons didn’t immediately take as in the first half, Ridgeline struggled to find consistency on offense. Eleven times in the opening two quarters, the Riverhawks gave the ball away, many of them simple miscues. The 8 for 28 shooting certainly didn’t help either and it led to the Riverhawks being down 22-20 at halftime.
Once the third quarter hit, however, those offensive struggles appeared to evaporate before the eyes of all in attendance. Ridgeline exploded for 17 third-quarter points. Eight of those points came off the hand of junior guard Haley Anderson, who had 18 total points on the night.
“We started trusting our teammates more,” Anderson said. “We started getting each other open and just playing more as a team and that helped us a lot and got us back in our rhythm.”
“We came out of the locker room with a little bit of passion and fire and decided we can do this. If we go out there and get after 50-50 balls, if we get on the ground for the ball, if we get our hands on passes, if we play together, we’ll see some good things. Attacking gaps, we found some open shots and knocked them down and the girls played hard.”
Offense wasn’t the only thing that upped the ante in the third quarter. Syracuse managed just five points and two made field goals the entire third quarter. Along with the obvious benefit of not allowing the Titans to score, Ridgeline fed off its own defense to fuel the offense splurge.
“Coach has always taught us that if our offensive game isn’t going the way we want it to, just get as many stops as you can on defense and our offense will come back to us,” Anderson said. “Defense is where it’s at and if you play defense, the offense will come and we’re starting to see that happen.”
Thanks to the third quarter, Ridgeline flipped the two-point halftime deficit into a 37-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter. A similarly strong 14-9 fourth quarter advantage sealed the deal on the first Ridgeline win of the year.
Along with Anderson, senior guard Brayli Jenks paced the offensive effort, scoring 14 points on the strength of four made 3-pointers. Anderson had three triples of her own on the night.
“Hayley and Brayli hit some outside shots, we got some big rebounds and put-backs,” coach Jenks said. “Haley was dialed in. She was excited to play at home. She loves to play. She’s just a gamer. And what I loved about tonight is Haley let the game come to her. She was patient, she found gaps, she found open shots. She played great.”
Integral to the rebounding effort, as always for Ridgeline, was Emma Anderson. The senior post had nine rebounds on the night which led all players on both sides. She did that even while missing large chunks of the second half due to foul trouble. Emma Anderson had two offensive rebounds, but that was part of a larger team effort that resulted in nine total offensive boards for the Riverhawks.
GRIZZLIES 69, WARRIORS 41
Amber Kartchner scored 26 points, highlighted by seven made 3-pointers to help Logan to its sixth win of the season and second straight 60-point game. The 69 points is the most points scored by the Grizzlies since their season-opening 81-40 win over Provo.
“I thought my kids came out and did what we wanted defensively and rebounding,” Logan head coach Josh Zentner said. “Amber was special this game but all-around team effort.”
Taylor Rose and Izabelle Rudd also scored in double figures with each netting 10 points. Rudd was the only other Grizzlies player to hit a 3-pointer on the night as she had one.
INDIANS 63, BOBCATS 54
Four players scored in double figures to lead Preston to its nine-point win over Burley. Cassee Pugmire (19), Saige Meek (15), Mickayla Robertson (11) and Brexli Ware (10) spearheaded the offensive effort that produced the second-highest point total of the season for the Indians.
It took a good chunk of the first half for Preston to load that offensive prowess and put it on display. The Indians only mustered nine points in the first quarter and then a decent 15 points. But then the third yielded 20 points and the fourth saw Preston score an additional 19.
BEES 62, BOBCATS 47
Sky View was right with Box Elder in the first, third and fourth quarters, only losing those eight-minute chunks by a total of six points. But an 18-9 disadvantage in the second ultimately buried the Bobcats in the matchup.
“It was a tough, physical game tonight,” SV head coach Vanessa Hall said. “We dug ourselves a hole early, but we were able to make a run and get within seven. However, early in the fourth, they hit some key threes. I thought we played good defense down the stretch. Our bench played well tonight and we fought until the end.”
Macy Hellstern and Melanie Hiatt both led the team in coring with 11 points apiece. Gracie Rigby added nine points for the Bobcats in the losing effort.
BEARS 58, PIRATES 31
West Side scored just nine first-half points en route to its 27-point loss to Bear Lake. The Pirates played decent defensively, holding the Bears to 25 points in the opening half, but their own offensive woes simply did them in.
“We just didn’t play very well. We still aren’t able to score early in the game,” WS head coach Bob Sorensen said. “A couple early injuries to Kenlee and Natalie took us a bit out of our game and Bear Lake played well.”
Kajsia Fuller led West Side with 10 points as the only player to reach the double-digit plateau in scoring.
A pair of Cache Valley teams were in action Thursday, and both teams lost non-region games.
Mountain Crest was outscored 22-10 in the second half, including 10-2 in the fourth quarter, in its 38-32 setback at home to Grantsville. Havyn Brown led the Mustangs (3-4) with 11 points, while Ella Douglass added seven.
“We came out strong and executed well, better than we have all year,” MC head coach Megan Smith said. “In the fourth (quarter), we had many opportunities to score, but just couldn’t put the ball through the hoop. ... I’m very pleased with the direction this team is going. Now, we just have to be more consistent.”
Meanwhile, Juan Diego was consistent offensively in its 62-50 triumph over visiting Sky View. Macy Hellstern poured in 23 points for the Bobcats (3-3), who also got nine points from Kaytlin Smart.
HJ sports writer Jason Turner contributed to this report