ERIE -- Senior leadership stuck out for the Riverdale girls' basketball team during Three Rivers Conference action on Thursday night at Erie High School.|
Riverdale took an early second-quarter lead and fended off an Erie Cardinals' comeback in the final frame behind seniors Hannah Nimrick and Elle May for a 58-49 victory.
Nimrick, a four-year varsity player, dominated the paint and perimeter, finishing with game-highs of 20 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and four assists, and May tallied 16 points and a game-high four steals to create one dynamic duo.
"It's nice to have them," said Riverdale coach Mick Kopriva, who saw his team pull away at the start of the second quarter. "The 14-2 run we had was the key to the game. Once we had the lead, we were able to stall a little bit and overcome the foul trouble."
Foul trouble is a big deal for a Riverdale (8-1, 4-1) team with just 10 girls, and some of them had already played in the fresh-soph game. It didn't seem to matter though, as both Nimrick and May played all 32 minutes and made sure Riverdale scored when it needed to.
Trailing 12-8 with the first quarter winding down, May canned a pair of free throws and then watched junior teammate Sydney Mericle (13 points) catch a perfect backdoor pass from Nimrick to tie the game. The feisty May then finished off the quarter with a steal and a transition bucket that allowed the Lady Rams to take the lead and never let it go.
"I have to be even more aggressive because of my height," said May, who is in her third year of varsity basketball and sees now what it is to be a senior. "It makes a difference and we know we just need to step up more and we know that's part of it."
Nimrick canned a 3-ball to open the second quarter and May then had back-to-back buckets in transition to give Riverdale a 23-12 lead.
"We know we have to work at it and take smart shots," said Nimrick, who has been turned into a post player after spending much of her varsity career on the point and the wing. "I like playing in the paint but I'm still a point guard in my eyes."
Nimrick had her hands full down low with upstart Erie freshman Rachel Cobert (team-highs of 11 points, seven rebounds), whose physical style made for an interesting matchup, but Nimrick still found plenty of room to can jumpers and free throws down the stretch.
"It was fun. I know she's one of the best players in the conference," said Cobert. "I just did what my coaches told me to do and tried to be the aggressor."
Erie (7-2, 2-2 TRAC-9) wasn't about to give up and took on the role of aggressor as a team down the stretch.
After trailing by 10 or more for much of the game, the Cardinals cut the lead to 49-42 on a Cobert putback late in the fourth quarter and then down to six points after a clutch 3-pointer by Laykin Miner (six points). Senior Paige Rus also got in on the scoring with 10 points of her own but Erie's comeback was stifled by Riverdale's free throw shooting.
"They shot 18-of-22 from the free throw line and 15-for-18 in the fourth quarter -- that's unheard of," said Erie coach Brian Howell, whose team was just 6-of-13 from the line. "The second quarter killed us but we played so much better in the second half and outscored them. We just put ourselves in a bad situation."
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