CLINCHCO - The Rye Cove girls basketball team faced a slightly longer drive to Clinchco than Castlewood for Monday night's Cumberland District playoff game.
What the Lady Eagles got in return was a guaranteed trip to next week's Region D tournament - and a smoother road when they get there.
"It seemed like we were doomed from the get-go," said Castlewood coach Barry Ruff, whose team never led in Rye Cove's 57-42 victory. "We didn't look like ourselves."
Rye Cove (18-5) will face Thomas Walker in Thursday's Cumberland District semifinals at Clinchco. Regardless of that outcome, the Lady Eagles will take a bye to the Region D semifinals in the bracket opposite defending Group A state champion Gate City.
Castlewood (16-6) will face St. Paul in Thursday's semifinals. If the Lady Blue Devils can get past the Lady Deacons - who beat Castlewood at St. Paul this season - Castlewood will land in Gate City's bracket next week.
"We made our road a lot rougher," said Ruff, whose squad beat the Lady Eagles 64-55 last week at Castlewood.
Christi Hood scored 16 points for Rye Cove, while Shasta Edwards fired up 15.
"We felt we had a lot to prove because we played really bad the last game," said Edwards, a freshman.
Shelli McDavid scored 13 points and grabbed 10 boards.
"Shelli was a little above her scoring average tonight," said Rye Cove coach Jamie Carter. "She's had several games when she's carried us. But for the most part, she does the best job of distributing the ball. She leads us in assists and defending the post."
McDavid's major defensive assignment Monday night was Kayla Gordon, who was held to 12 points. Gordon scored 23 for Castlewood in last week's win.
"We challenged Shelli to hold her to double digits. She didn't quite do that. But she still had a good defensive game," said Carter, whose team was up 10-6 after the first quarter and led 31-16 at the half.
"We just made a commitment tonight that we were going to go out there and play better defense. Everything good that happened tonight came off the defense."
That, and the fact that Rye Cove gave up only three offensive boards to Castlewood.
Lorren Evans led the Lady Blue Devils with 20 points - but the rebounds Rye Cove got on the other end helped neutralize that.
"They killed us on the boards. We were giving them two and three shots on a layup," Ruff said.
"When we've got 16 points at halftime, you know we're having a bad night. Defensively, we may give up a few. But we usually score some points."
The Lady Eagles made it a top priority to prevent that.
"I think we played really good defense tonight," said Hood, who grabbed nine rebounds. "Everyone played up to their standards and we all moved our feet good."