DeGRAFF — Riverside hasn’t played consistently on defense this season according to coach Rod Yoder. But against rival Lehman on Thursday, the Pirates were ready to bring pressure.
Riverside built a lead in the first half and dominated the third quarter to pull away to a 40-25 victory over the Cavaliers in a Three Rivers Conference game at Kenny Truster Gymnasium.
Riverside (2-4, 2-2 TRC) used a 7-5 scoring edge in the first and 8-5 advantage in the second to take a 16-10 halftime lead. The Pirates caught fire offensively in the third, as Avery Perk made two 3-pointers and Jade Copas hit several jumpers to power a 14-5 scoring edge and push the lead to 29-15.
“That’s probably the best third quarter we’ve played,” Riverside coach Rod Yoder said. “We’ve been struggling coming out of the locker room.
“The difference for us this whole game was our defense. Our defense has been not great, and tonight we came out and we played our best defense. We were moving well and boxing out well. I was very pleased with this.”
Riverside earned its first win by beating Northridge 32-29 on Dec. 1 after starting with three consecutive losses. They lost by 11 points at Troy Christian on Saturday before Thursday’s victory.
“We’re looking to come out and improve every single day,” Yoder said. “I feel like we’re doing that; we’re making progress. We’re only six games into the season, so we’ve got time to continue to work on things.”
Copas, a 5-foot-6 senior forward, led the squad with 12 points. She averaged 8.4 rebounds per game in the squad’s first five contests.
Ayva Stewart scored nine points off the bench while Avery Perk scored eight points.
“Ayva played a really good game tonight,” Yoder said. “She really controlled the ball and had some nice penetration and drew some fouls.”
The Cavaliers dropped to 1-6 overall with the loss and 0-3 in TRC play. They recently picked up their first win by beating Houston 43-40 in a continuation of a game that was postponed on Nov. 29 due to a power outage at Houston. But they’ve lost every other contest by double digits.
First-year coach Chad Platfoot has taken over the program after coaching some of the squad’s players, including his sophomore daughter Layla Platfoot, in elementary and middle school.
“We’re making progress,” Chad Platfoot said. “We kind of got behind the eight ball because of soccer and volleyball. With us putting in everything new on offense and defense and the season being moved up a week, it was tough. But we’re starting to get into it. We’ve got three girls who are coming back, so we have a lot who are just starting to see varsity time.”
Junior forward Mara O’Leary led the squad with eight points while Layla Platfoot and junior Taylor Geise each scored seven. All three are returnees.
O’Leary averaged 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in Lehman’s first six games.
“She’s been a leader,” Platfoot said. “We only have one senior, and I’m definitely asking a lot from the retuning players. Mara is definitely one of them. She knows she’s going to have to score quite a few points to help us out. Sometimes she takes that upon herself to and tries to do too much. …We’re just trying to get her confidence and let her play.”
Platfoot said Lehman’s struggles shooting and with offensive rebounding were too much to overcome Thursday.
“We have a tendency that we can’t score, and when (our opponent) makes some shots, that pressure building up, and things can start snowballing,” Platfoot said. “That’s what I talked about with them after. We’ve just got to be able to handle that, score a little bit and just relax.”
Riverside made 8-of-20 foul shot attempts while Lehman made 13-of-26.
Lehman is scheduled to host Covington in a TRC game on Saturday afternoon while Riverside is scheduled to travel to TRC leader Miami East (6-1, 4-0).
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.