BRISTOL, Va. — A 3-pointer to open the overtime period followed by four minutes of tenacious defense was all Rye Cove needed to make school history Saturday in the girls’ Region D, Division 1 title game.
Christi Hood connected on a 3 from the top of the key on the first possession of overtime and the Lady Eagles allowed Twin Valley just a single point the rest of the way to give Rye Cove a 45-42 victory and the first regional basketball title in school history.
“That game was a game of spurts,” Rye Cove coach Jamie Carter said, “and we made the last run.”
The Lady Eagles trailed by two points with 1:42 left in regulation, but Shasta Edwards knocked down a 10-footer to tie the game at 41.
With just two team fouls in the second half, Rye Cove spent the next 90 seconds harassing whichever Lady Panther happened to have the basketball.
“We had fouls to give in that last minute so we were really able to get after the ball,” Carter said. “When you can play like that, it can make a big difference.”
Twin Valley eventually got the ball inside to Katie Jo Lester with time running out, but Shelli McDavid blocked Lester’s shot out of bounds to force overtime.
Hood’s 3-pointer gave Rye Cove all the cushion it needed and the Lady Eagles got right back to playing hard-nosed defense without the fear of putting Twin Valley on the line.
With an emphasis on keeping the ball out of Lester’s hands, the Lady Eagles forced four turnovers in overtime and limited the Lady Panthers to a Sarah Mullins foul shot.
Lester had torched Rye Cove for 26 points in regulation, but she was unable to do any damage in OT.
“They weren’t attacking,” Carter said. “They were trying to get the ball to Lester and everybody in the gym knew that.”
Lester’s outburst marked the third straight game in which Rye Cove allowed a player to score at least 26 points, but the Lady Eagles managed to survive all three times.
Twin Valley coach Rick Goodman admitted that close losses are always tough, but he hoped to use it as a lesson as his team hits the road for a state quarterfinal matchup.
“I told them to remember this feeling,” Goodman said. “You don’t want to have this feeling again next week.”
Hood led Rye Cove (16-13) with 13 points while Edwards had 10. Mullins finished with 10 for Twin Valley (22-5).
The win means Rye Cove will host a state quarterfinal game at a site yet to be determined. Carter mentioned Virginia High, Castlewood and Lebanon as possibilities, but a decision won’t be made until Monday.
In the Region D, District 2 girls final, Virginia High overcame foul trouble to pick up a 41-36 victory over Honaker.
By the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Lady Bearcats had two starters saddled with four fouls and leading scorer Ashley Grimm had fouled out.
After Virginia High missed the front end of two 1-and-1s in the final minute, Honaker’s Rachel Artrip hit a layup with 19.2 seconds to bring the Lady Tigers within two points of the lead.
But with the game on the line, the Lady Bearcats hit three of their last four foul shots and forced a turnover with seven seconds left to secure the regional title.
Grimm led a balanced offensive attack for Virginia High (24-3) with nine points. Artrip’s 14 points paced Honaker (23-4).