DEGRAFF — Riverside nearly let a Northwest Central Conference game against Lehman Catholic slip away on Thursday but came up big in the final minute.
The Pirates lost a six-point lead in the fourth quarter after a flurry of turnovers, but Shelby Giles scored the last six points of the game to lift the team to a 35-31 win over Lehman.
Riverside didn’t score a basket in the fourth until the final two minutes, during which time Lehman overcame a six-point deficit and took the lead. But when it looked like the Cavaliers had the momentum, Riverside fought back.
“They give non-stop effort,” Riverside coach Danielle King said. “Especially in close games, even when they’re down. Like tonight, if this was last year, we would have folded if we turned the ball over that much. But they just kept working.”
Giles hit a long jumper from near the top of the key with 1:17 left to tie the score 31-31. She was fouled as she shot and missed a free throw, but she came up big at the line in the final minute.
Each team committed two turnovers over the next minute, but after Lehman missed a shot with under 20 seconds left, Giles was fouled by Lehman’s Rylie McIver while going for a rebound.
Giles hit both foul shots of a one-and-one opportunity with 16 seconds left to put Riverside ahead by two points. The Cavaliers missed a shot with about five seconds left, and Giles was fouled shortly after getting a rebound. She hit two more free throws with one second left to secure the win.
Though Giles was 4 for 4 from the line to give Riverside the win, she said she was nervous before each attempt.
“It’s a close game and it’s against Lehman, so I’m always going to have nerves there,” Giles said. “You just have to focus in all the time.”
Giles scored a game-high 16 points for Riverside (2-7, 2-2 NWCC) and had six rebounds and three assists.
“That was huge for her, for her confidence,” King said. “She’s our go-to scorer when we need a shooter. She’s been struggling a bit the last couple of weeks, so it’s nice to see her finally hit some shots and get her confidence up. She needed that — we needed that.”
Riverside had led for all but a brief period in the first quarter before Lehman (4-5, 1-2) rallied in the fourth.
Grace Monnin hit a long jumper from along the right baseline with 4:02 left in the third to cut Riverside’s lead to 27-25, then Brogan McIver hit a 3-pointer with 3:22 left to give Lehman a 28-27 lead.
Lauren McFarland hit two free throws to boost Lehman’s lead to 30-27 with two minutes left.
“We don’t play like until we get ourselves pinned in a corner,” Lehman coach Craig Hall said. “That’s what we have to overcome. We have to learn to play with that intensity for 32 minutes, not in spurts like that.”
Marissa Davis hit a basket with 1:44 left to cut Lehman’s lead to one point, then Monnin made a free throw seven seconds later to extend the lead to 31-29.
Lehman’s effort was hampered by turnovers and fouls in the final 90 seconds. The Cavaliers committed 18 total turnovers and 14 fouls.
“We had a lot of unforced errors,” Hall said. “Fouls 20 feet from the basket, not converting on fast-break layups, not converting on offensive rebounds, gathering ourselves and going up strong. We’ve got a lot of talent, it’s just a matter of — like I told the girls, if you can only play 80 miles an hour, don’t play 90. Play within yourself. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Riverside had 23 turnovers, including several in the fourth quarter that Lehman took advantage of. The Pirates twice threw the ball away in the final minute but benefited from Lehman losing the ball out-of-bounds once and traveling once.
“We definitely have some game situations to work on their offensively, but defensively and rebounding, they definitely responded,” King said.
Marissa Davis scored nine points and led the team with 11 rebounds. Leah Kelsey scored eight points and Kalin Kreglow brought down nine rebounds. Riverside outrebounded Lehman 33-31.
Monnin led Lehman with nine points, while Brogan McIver and McFarland each added six. McIver led the team with seven steals. The Cavaliers shot 12 for 54 (22 percent) from the field.
“All these girls know how to do it,” Hall said of shooting. “They do it when I’m standing their watching them, but when you turn you back, all of sudden they’re calling me and asking, ‘Why am I not hitting these?’ You sit there and watch them, and they start hitting again.
“It’s just concentration and repetition. We’re a much better shooting team this year than last year. This (is) the fewest points we’ve scored this year. We just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had.”
Monnin hit a jumper in the first 15 seconds of the third quarter to pull Lehman within 18-17 of Riverside. Neither team did much over the next five minutes due to a flurry of turnovers, but Riverside finished the quarter on a big run.
Davis hit back-to-back baskets in the paint, the second of which gave the Pirates a 24-19 lead with 1:36 left in the third.
McFarland hit a long jumper with 1:17 left to bring the Cavaliers within three points, but Kelsey hit a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left to give Riverside a 27-21 lead at the end of the quarter.
Monnin hit a long jumper to give Lehman a 4-3 lead with 4:25 left in the first quarter, but Riverside finished the quarter with a big run.
Giles hit a 3-pointer with 2:37 left to put the Pirates up 6-4. After a free throw by McIver with 1:10 left, Kelsey hit a long jumper and Giles hit a 3 from the left wing in the final minute to boost Riverside’s lead to 11-5.
Giles hit a basket with 4:32 left in the second to boost Riverside’s lead to 15-7. The Pirates extended the lead to as many as nine points, but Lehman scored the last six points of the quarter to pull within 18-15 at halftime.
“We gave up too many catch-and-shoots to (Giles),” Hall said. “She’s a nice player. She can catch and shoot and make a nice shot off the dribble. You don’t see that a lot in girls basketball.”
Riverside hosts Troy Christian in nonconference action on Saturday, while Lehman hosts New Knoxville.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.