FLUSH — The Riley County girls’ basketball team used a strong third quarter to get some much-needed separation against the Rock Creek Mustangs Tuesday night in a 43-31 road win in a rivalry game.
Riley County senior guards Katelyn Thomson and Madison Vargo combined for 23 points Tuesday night. Riley County head coach Harold Oliver said that Thomson had been battling an illness all week and he was unsure of how much she would be used Tuesday night.
“For her to even be on the court is a testimony to her toughness,” Oliver said.
The rest of the Falcons (6-0) were trying to get their legs back after a long holiday break, which helped contribute to the team’s sluggish start. Riley County had not played since a Dec. 17 home win against Clay Center.
For Rock Creek (0-6), the challenge of guarding the perimeter against a hot-shooting Falcon squad was met reasonably well.
“If you don’t cover those girls there, it’s just swish city,” Rock Creek head coach Mike Zabel lamented. “They’re just hellacious shooters.”
While a 15-point fourth quarter helped ease the blow of another loss on the season, Zabel said he continues to be impressed by his team.
“From early December until now, we’ve made 100 percent improvement,” Zabel said “We did that against the No. 1 team in Class 3A. I couldn’t be prouder of our girls.”
Riley County held a 17-13 lead at halftime. Rock Creek slowed the game down and tried to spread the floor against the Riley County zone.
Rock Creek shadowed both Vargo and Thomson all night long and tried to force other Falcons to beat them. Posts Alyssa Kulp (9) and Heidi Prockish (7) combined for 16 points.
Both plans of attack worked as the game slowed and points became even harder to come by. Zabel said his team has struggled to score points and that was not more evident than in the second quarter when Riley County kept the Mustangs off the scoreboard for nearly seven minutes until Brynn Hammett broke the scoring drought.
Zabel said his team will continue to work on shooting throughout this continued week of practice and build off this impressive offensive performance.
The fourth quarter saw both teams combine for 29 points. Jacy Johnston scored five points in the fourth quarter and led Rock Creek with 10 points.
“She’s going to be a pretty good shooter for us the next two years,” Zabel said.
Oliver said he was impressed with Rock Creek’s play in the second half.
“They had good ball movement and they had great player movement,” Oliver said. “They were able to hit some shots and play with some confidence.”
Riley County travels to Rossville on Friday. Rock Creek travels to Silver Lake.