Riverdale's girls rolled with ease to a 71-42 victory over Velma Jackson (Camden, Mississippi) on the opening day of the annual State Farm Classic at Riverdale Wednesday night.
Riverdale was fresh off of dealing with the frustrations of having missed last week's national Nike Tournament of Champions due to inclement weather and canceled flights.
"The worst thing is having things happen that are out of your control, that you are not able to fix," said Riverdale coach Randy Coffman. "As teachers and coaches we just want to fix things, especially for the kids. I know how important it was for them and the coaching staff to get the opportunity to go out there. But for us, we weren't given any options. Our options were to be there by Tuesday.
"It's really frustrating considering all the Sunday flights were cancelled early Saturday while we were sitting on a wait, meanwhile all the Monday flights got booked with Sunday cancellations, which presented our issue."
"It was disappointing," Riverdale senior Anastasia Hayes said. "We knew we had no control over things, so we came in and practiced and kept our heads up. Coach (Coffman) had a dinner for us and we all kind of came closer together."
Whether the Lady Warriors were over the frustration or looking for someone to take it out on, the Falcons walked into a buzz saw Wednesday. The near 30-point victory could have been much worse as Riverdale took the foot off the gas and the entire bench received ample second half minutes.
"I like games like these," said Brinae Alexander, "where we (the starters) only play the first half and a few minutes in the third quarter and then get to watch everyone else play. It's fun and exciting to get everybody out there in the game. It also helps us push through the shared suffering we were going through with the disappointment from last week."
Riverdale jumped out to a massive 27-5 first quarter lead and continued on to a 40-9 halftime lead, largely in part to the Lady Warriors forcing 23 first half turnovers, 15 of which were steals. As per usual, Hayes was at the helm of the defensive onslaught.
"Defense has been our main focus all week," said Hayes. "That's what coach (Coffman) said we needed to work, playing better defense so we have really been focused in on getting better on defense."
The Falcons showed they weren't laying down coming out after halftime, scoring the first five points of the second half. However, the Lady Warriors responded with a 10-0 run behind Hayes, Alexander, and Amanda Whittington, which was the final push Coffman needed to start rolling in his bench players.
"Games like this are a great opportunity for us," said Coffman. "We play about nine players steady for most of the year, and we are working hard to find those 10th and 11th spots to become bigger contributors for us. So a game like today where we came out hungry in the first half and played well, it gave us opportunity for some of the kids to step in show some things they can do to help what we're doing."
"We don't change our strategy though," continued Coffman. "It's no secret here we like to play fast, we like to run the ball down the floor, we like to throw it ahead, and our kids share it with the best of them, and that's something I'm really proud of"
Anastasia Hayes led all scorers with 20 points on the night. Riverdale also was led by Alexander and Aislynn Hayes with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Both Anastasia Hayes and Alexander were out of the game midway through the third quarter.
Velma Jackson was led by Madison Riley with 19 points and Victoria Johnson with 13. The pair accounted for all but one of their team's points in the first three quarters.