PORT BYRON — Trailing Alleman by 10 points entering the fourth quarter Monday, the Riverdale girls' basketball team was hoping to conjure up more of the home-court magic that served it so well last February.|
On the same floor where they upended the Pioneers in last year's Class 2A regional semifinals, the Rams opened Monday's final period by scoring the first six points, closing the deficit to four and capping a 9-0 run that began in the third quarter.
After that, however, it was all Alleman as the Pioneers scored 10 of the game's final 13 points to secure a 51-40 nonconference victory that moves them to 6-5.
"That was huge," Alleman coach Jay Hatch said of his team's finish. "We've had trouble with that; we've been giving up leads a lot lately. They cut it to four, but we weathered the storm and got the job done. It was a total team effort offensively and defensively."
Riverdale coach Mick Kopriva knew that Alleman's depth could provide problems for his 9-2, undermanned squad. All five Ram starters played the entire 32 minutes, with senior forward Hannah Nimrick's double-double of 16 points and 13 boards leading the way to go with four steals.
"That (depth), plus their defense was tough," said Kopriva, who also got 12 points from Lauren Claus. "We didn't shoot well (14 of 55, 26 percent), and that contributed to what they were doing defensively. They also killed us on the boards (34 to 22) and with second-chance shots, a lot of putbacks."
The duo of junior Anna Wetherell and sophomore Izzy Anderson ensured that the Rams wouldn't complete their comeback bid. Anderson scored four of her five points down the stretch, with Wetherell tallying half of her eight points; she also finished with nine rebounds, tying senior reserve Maddie McGuire (10 points) for team-high honors.
Among the Pioneer starters, Erin Morrisey hit on seven of eight shots and tallied 16 points, with Anne Bohnert adding eight points and eight boards. From the reserves, Karli Anderson banked in a 3-pointer that gave Alleman a 10-7 lead after the first period.
"We did a good job of finding Erin, and she also did a lot of good things on defense," Hatch said. "Maddie did a great job of playing to her strengths, which are rebounding and taking the open shots. Our bench was important tonight. Riverdale went five deep, and we went 10 deep, which makes a big difference."
Even after Anderson's buzzer-beating trey for Alleman, the Rams kept hanging in there. After the Pioneers got up five, the hosts scrambled back to tie the score at 14 on a Claus bucket. A Nimrick 3-ball kept it close, but Alleman worked its way to a 26-21 halftime lead, which it stretched to 40-26 in the third quarter.
"Riverdale is a quality, quality team," said Hatch. "Nimrick and (Elle) May are as good as any two players we've faced. We really had to help each other out on defense."
And even though his team's rally came up short, Kopriva said the experience of playing Alleman is something that will only help his team grow.
"I told them I wished we could play competition like Alleman every night," he said. "We'd get even better."