By NATHAN INNIGER
When Taylor Frey hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 57 seconds left in the first quarter, Riverdale took a 11-8 lead.
From that point on, the Falcons hardly trailed. Arlington did tie the score seven times and took a brief 29-27 lead in the third quarter, but Riverdale had played most of the game from in front.
So when Arlington gained a 61-57 lead with 2:52 left in the second overtime, one had to wonder how the Falcons would respond with no seniors on the roster.
Riverdale was not phased as the Falcons scored buckets on their next three possessions and made six straight free throws down the stretch to pull out a 69-65 victory over their neighborhood rivals in the Division IV sectional final at Findlay High School.
In the second game, McComb broke out to a 21-7 lead after four minutes and breezed past North Baltimore 73-48.
McComb (17-7) and Riverdale (13-10) move on to the district semifinals on Thursday at Liberty-Benton High School. The Panthers will play Patrick Henry (22-1) at 6:15 p.m. and the Falcons will battle Leipsic (15-8) at approximately 8 p.m.
Riverdale led Arlington 45-38 with 2:15 left when Kirsten Evans converted a layup in transition.
The Red Devils, the defending Division IV champions, did not fold.
Madi Mains finished a conventional three-point play and Jordyn Webb hit one of her seven 3-pointers from the corner to get Arlington within 45-44.
Jordyn Wright made one free throw, which set the stage for Arlington’s Kathryn Jolliff.
The senior point guard, who had played sporadically because of foul trouble, hit a jumper from the elbow to tie the score with 10 seconds left.
Wright quickly advanced the ball up the floor, but charged into a Red Devil defender for an offensive foul.
Tiffany Wright stole the inbounds pass, but her lay-up attempt didn’t go sending the game to overtime.
“I felt like defensively our girls played hard for 40 minutes,” Riverdale head coach Maryann Holderman said. “Loose balls; we were diving on them. We played with a lot of heart, made free throws when they counted, because this was a battle.”
The Falcons led most of the first overtime, but Webb drained another trey with 41 seconds left to force the second extra period.
“We had some girls make some huge plays,” Arlington coach Seth Newlove said. “I thought the girls played hard on both ends. Both teams made plays. It was a heck of a basketball team. We just made too many mistakes.”
Webb, who scored all of Arlington’s 10 points during the second overtime, hit treys on the Red Devils’ opening two possessions giving Arlington its 61-57 lead which set the stage for Riverdale’s gutsy comeback.
“They played with guts,” Holderman said. “This was a young group. I don’t have a senior on the floor and how they have grown up through our season.
“They didn’t play like a bunch of juniors and freshmen on the floor. They played huge and they weren’t waiting for somebody else to make the play. They were looking themselves to make the play if they had the ball.”
Six of Riverdale’s 10 losses during the regular season were by less than 10 points.
“We have been so close and it has taught us,” Jordyn Wright said. “We finally just got it together and realized we could finish a game. Everybody just worked together to do it and it is just an amazing feeling to win.”
The victory clinched Riverdale’s seventh consecutive sectional championship.
Jordyn Wright led the Falcons with 20 points. Bre Parish (17), Taylor Frey (12) and Kristen Evans (10) also contributed. Tiffany Wright had eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
Webb led all scorers with 22 points and had eight rebounds, Haley Dillon came off of the bench to score 11 points and Mains added 10 for the Red Devils. Dani Heaster had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.
In the second game, McComb jumped out to leads of 23-9 after one quarter, 37-20 at halftime and 60-32 by the end of the third quarter.
“We came out hitting on all cylinders, inside, outside, it kind of didn’t matter what we did tonight. It seemed to work,” McComb head coach Jeremy Herr said.
“We gave up 22 points in four minutes,” North Baltimore head coach Greg Frost said. “They beat us down the floor and everything was going their way and we are throwing the ball across the court and all over the place.”
The Panthers were opportunistic on defense and efficient pushing the ball up the floor for transition baskets.
McComb also dominated inside as senior posts Brianna Herr and Emily Clymer scored 22 and 13 points, respectively. Herr completed a double-double with 11 rebounds.
Brenna Dee was the main ignition to the Panthers’ fast-paced offensive attack. A junior guard, Dee had 12 points and team highs of eight assists and five steals.
“It was more like the Findlay track meet than a basketball game, but it was nice to win a sectional championship again,” Briana Herr said. “We won it my freshman year and its just nice to be back cutting the nets.”
Ten McComb players scored and the Panthers forced North Baltimore into 19 turnovers.
Senior Ricci Emahiser led the Tigers with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Johnson 1-0—2, Webb 7-1—22, Jolliff 3-0—7, O’Rear 2-0—4, Heaster 4-1—9, Mains 3-3—10, Russell 0-0—0, Dillon 5-1—11. TOTALS: 25-49 6-8—65.
Farrow 0-0—0, T. Wright 1-6—8, Parish 7-3—17, J. Wright 6-7—20, Evans 4-2—10, Frey 5-1—12, Walter 1-0—2. TOTALS: 24-50 19-28—69.
Arlington 10 7 15 14 9 10 — 65
Riverdale 11 12 13 10 9 14 — 69
3-Point GOALS: Arlington 9-23 (Webb 7, Mains & Jolliff 1); Riverdale 2-7 (J. Wright & T. Frey 1).
rebounds: Arlington 25 (Webb 8, Heaster 7); Riverdale 21 (Parish 6, T. Wright 5).
turnovers: Arlington 21, Riverdale 12.
Reed 2-0—5, Newcomer 1-0—2, Herr 10-2—22, H. Buck 0-0—0, Dee 4-3—12, Hammond 0-0—0, Smith 0-0—0, Huffman 1-2—4, Beverly 1-0—3, Sudlow 2-0—4, Clymer 4-5—13, K. Buck 2-0—5, Reigle 0-3—3. TOTALS: 27-56 15-24—73.
north Baltimore (9-14)
Davis 2-0—5, Stewart 2-0—5, Schloemp 0-0—0, Fleckner 3-2—8, Bretz 2-0—4, Trumbull 1-1—3, Gazarek 1-0—2, Peters 1-0—2, Wright 3-0—6, Frost 1-1—3, Ray 0-0—0, Emahiser 3-2—10, Hernandez 0-0—0, Grilliot 0-0—0. TOTALS: 19-54 6-11—48.
McComb 23 14 23 13 — 73
North Baltimore 9 11 12 16 — 48
3-Point GOALS: McComb 4-10 (Reed, Dee, Beverly & K. Buck 1); North Baltimore 4 (Emahiser 2, Davis & Stewart 1).
rebounds: McComb 34 (Herr 11); North Baltimore 29 (Emahiser 10).
turnovers: McComb 16.