Riverdale Raiders didn’t bring their A-game.
That’s what coach Trung Duong said of his charges at the senior girls South Region Tier 2 championship Nov. 10.
“I think they’re disappointed more so because we didn’t play the game we’re capable of, and that’s frustrating,” he said of his team’s 36-29 loss to Leaside.
Led by the court prowess of Kaitlyn Williams, the Raiders got off to a shaky start, failing to score within the first six minutes of the game.
That’s not to say Leaside fared any better — only having two baskets from Katherine Whyte during that span.
By the first’s end — with a lone bucket by Williams — the score was 7-2 for the Lancers.
After the break, it appeared Leaside caught the Raiders’ nervous bug, as two unforced turnovers by Ally Cabrera-Aragon in her own zone led to Williams stealing the ball twice: once for a quick deuce, another for a three-point play with foul.
The poor ball control by the Lancers gave Riverdale a 12-11 lead at halftime.
Leaside coach Rojohn Galo said it was those two steals the Lancers’ used as inspiration for a turnaround.
His lead charge, guard Taylor Gavin, agreed.
“When we had the two turnovers in the second quarter, I think we all just kind of lost it in our minds,” she said. “We thought, ‘Oh no, this is it’.
“We tried to take a minute and just gather our thoughts and get back in the game,” she added. “That was when we were all scared.”
After the break, Williams kept scoring and set up teammates Rachel Hunter and Alysha Robinson.
But Leaside upped the ante with forward Veki Raslovic sinking three buckets for six.
Sitting at 23-18 at third’s end, Galo said he was excited when his girls pulled away.
“They played two-on-two, and I told (the girls), I want two girls inside all the time so we can grab the rebounds,” he said. “That’s what we did. That’s why we kept winning.”
Though Williams was consistent with ten points and three assists and pulling down the rebounds, her cohort Hunter didn’t keep pace until late in the game when she chipped in six of her own, Duong said.
“They just kept on taking shots, those two, and they kept missing until the very end,” he said. “By then it was too late.”
Williams said the game was a learning experience, great for her next pursuit after graduation: Humber College basketball.
Even though the Riverdale duo failed to seal the deal, Duong praised their role as team leaders, but rued their departure.
“We’ve got four starters that are graduating which makes it tough, but we’ve got a bunch of grade 10s coming up that should make the team relatively strong,” he said. “It’s hard to look forward to the next season, we’re just trying to soak this one in.”
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