RILEY — The Riley County girls basketball team tipped off its postseason in dominating fashion Monday afternoon, crushing visiting Osage City, 60-29.
Riley County junior Katelyn Thomson led all scorers with 23 points. She was 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Fellow juniors Madison and Makayla Vargo were also in double-digits for the Falcons with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Overall, Riley County (15-5) netted 13 3-pointers and hit 10 of them before the halftime buzzer.
“Well, we shot the ball well, and when we shoot the ball well it makes a big difference in our ability to be successful,” said Falcons head coach Harold Oliver, who notched his 501st career win. “We’re a perimeter oriented team, and sometimes we like to shoot a lot of 3s. Sometimes when we don’t hit them it seems like we are struggling on offense, but when we do knock them down it gives a lot of momentum.
“Plus, our defense was good. We were able to push (Osage City) out and get in the passing lane, making it difficult for them to get anything easy at the basket.”
Riley County wasted no time getting a quick lead and did so with Thomson 3-pointers.
The Falcons took a 14-4 lead barely three minutes after the opening tip.
A 3-pointer from Madison Vargo extended the lead 17-4 with three minutes left in the first quarter and the frustration quickly went to the Osage City bench, where the head coach was called for a technical foul that sent Madison to the free-throw line, where she was 1 of 2.
The Indians’ (8-13) Cayla Lawless answered with a basket inside and a foul call, but she couldn’t convert the three-point play and Thomson ended the quarter with another trey.
Just like that, the Falcons had opened sub-state play with a 21-7 advantage after the conclusion of the first quarter.
The pattern would continue throughout the second quarter, where Thomson and Makayla Vargo would sink two more 3-pointers each.
Riley County went into halftime with a 40-15 lead.
The Falcons cruised in the third quarter and the game closed with a running clock in the final quarter.
“She’s a tough kid,” Oliver said about the play of Thomson. “She plays a good overall game from both ends of the court and does a lot of ball-handling for us. She does a good job of taking the ball to the hole and does a good job shooting 3s.
“All of those are good skills to have and she has a nice combination of them.”
Oliver was awarded a special game ball following the conclusion of the game for his 500th career victory from last week’s regular season finale.
He said much of the credit for those wins goes to the players he’s had through the years, as well as to the RCHS community.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of good kids go through our program for a long period of time and a lot of good parents. We’ve got good people around us in terms of our other coaches and good administrative support. It’s just a combination of a lot of different things.”
Oliver laughed when asked if he’d thought he ever reach 500 wins when he first started out as a head coach.
“No,” he said. “Not at all. That wasn’t even a thought. It never has been. That’s what coaches do. You get ready for a game, then you get ready for the next game.”
The Falcons posted 14 assists to just six turnovers, while Osage City had 13 turnovers to just six assists. Defensively, Riley County totaled 10 steals and the Indians only managed two.
Riley County will continue play Thursday against Marysville (14-7) in Riley.