FLUSH – A big first half and a demanding final two minutes sealed the win for the Riley County girls’ basketball team on the road against Rock Creek 38-29 Friday night.
The Falcons also stayed undefeated at 15-0.
Riley County senior and K-State women’s basketball signee Kelly Thomson led the game with 22 points and senior Elizabeth Herrs led the Mustangs with 11 points. Megan Srna, a junior, was also in double-digits for Rock Creek with 10.
“We felt good about the way we were ready to play,” Riley County head coach Harold Oliver said. “We had good energy on both ends of the floor and really played a good first half. We didn’t carry it over in the second half, but sometimes that happens.”
The Falcons led after the first quarter 13-7 and extended that lead into halftime when Thomson banked a long 3-pointer high off the glass at the buzzer to send Riley County into the break with a 26-11 advantage.
Rock Creek (12-3, 4-3 Mid-East League) opened the second half with a trey from Srna to try and capture some early momentum, but the Mustangs’ spark was ended when Thomson nailed another 3-pointer on the other end of the floor.
While the Falcons held a comfortable 16-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Rock Creek did make it interesting at the end — even without point guard Shiann Bruce, who went down with a serious knee injury towards the end of the third.
A quick 5-0 run to start the final period with a basket plus the foul shot by Herrs and a long two from the wing from Srna cut the deficit to 36-25 with under five minutes to go, and a 2-for-2 trip at the free throw line by Srna made it a nine-point game with 2:15 to go.
But Riley County — which had played with efficient ball movement the entire night — was able to hold onto the last possession for the rest of the way.
“I think the whole game boiled down to our inability to hit 3-pointers tonight,” Rock Creek head coach Mike Zabel said. “That’s some of the best looks I’ve had against Riley County, but they just refused to let Herrs have the ball inside.
“But I’m just so proud of my girls, they didn’t give up because they could have got blown out there pretty bad. They fought, hung in there and gave themselves a little bit of a chance to come back. That’s an outstanding team Riley County has, and I think they are one of the top five teams in the state regardless of class. For us to battle that hard against them I’m pretty proud of my team.”
Oliver said the strategy to hold onto the ball in the final two minutes plays to the strengths of his squad.
“We’re a good free throw shooting team and a good ball-handling team,” Oliver said. “So when we spread the floor — on anyone, really — it becomes difficult to defend us. So we just wanted them to force them to come out and chase us a little more.”
For the game, both teams had seven free throw makes, but the Falcons were more efficient from the stripe making 7-of-10 attempts, while Rock Creek was 7-of-14.
RILEY COUNTY 38,
ROCK CREEK 29
Riley County 13 13 10 2 — 38
Rock Creek 7 9 9 9 — 29
RILEY COUNTY (38) — Thomson 22, Rheaume 7, Mak. Vargo 5, Phebus 2, Corbin 2.
ROCK CREEK (29) — Herrs 11, Srna 10, Snapp 3, Elliot 3, Christenson 2.
3-pointers — Riley County 3 (Thomson 2, Mak. Vargo); Rock Creek 2 (Srna, Elliot).