It may surprise you to know some teams often avoid the best competition until they absolutely have to play them.
A Riverdale player fends off Science Hill opponents during the March 10, 2012, finals for the state championship at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP File Photo)
Sometimes, they meet if entered in the same holiday classic or tournament and sometimes they meet when a team on the regular schedule proves to be really good.
This is almost accidental such as the Riverdale-Columbia game a few days ago.
The Lady Warriors won – it was close – and both teams got better. Unfortunately, many teams put the chance to get a win against a weaker opponent before a chance to get better by playing the best.
RHS had another of those “play the best” games when they took on Science Hill on the second night of the State Farm Classic Saturday after our deadline.
The Hilltoppers were 33-4 two years ago and in the state semis and 38-1 and state runner-up last year when they lost their best player to injury in a state tournament win and then lost the finals to Riverdale. To their everlasting credit, the two teams played Saturday and both got better.
The Lady Warriors have the idea that if they play the best now, they will be much better prepared to play their district, which starts Jan. 4, and will feature two games versus Oakland and two versus Blackman in 35 days, plus everybody else.
History has proven this type of scheduling is wise. Naturally it’s also good for Blackman and Oakland, both of whom are very good.
The Columbia and Science Hill games evidently were not enough as the Lady Warriors played Memphis Central last week.
Now there’s a “we’ll get better” game if ever I saw one, and I did see it. Memphis Central (also the Warriors) has beaten Riverdale three times in five tries over the last three years and has more than 80 wins since 2009 including a state title, but they couldn’t handle Riverdale this time.
Behind a team high 24 points and numerous rebounds from Olivia Jones, Riverdale prevailed 89-72.
RHS led by only six at the end of the third quarter but exploded with a 29 points in the fourth quarter and placed all five starters in double figures as Tyisha Petty had 21, Shelbie Davenport had 14, and Alexa Middleton and Tiffany Lewis had 11 each.
It wasn’t all offense however, as Riverdale used its press, fast break and offensive rebounding to help secure its 10th win of the year and 33rd in a row.
The crowd for a 4 o’clock game on a Saturday afternoon was a good one, and it was treated to twin wins as the Riverdale boys also won by picking up their fifth win of the year and beating a good Marshall County team 59-47.
Nina Davis of Memphis Central scorched our Lady Warriors for 31 points. I can easily see why she is rated the 14th best forward in the country. She’s headed to Baylor.
The sound system at Riverdale is unintelligible – the teams and fans deserve better.
Totally unrelated note: My granddaughter, Ashley Elkins, plays in the marching band at Spanish Fort High School in Alabama.
This past week the Toros won the 5A State Football Championship. I had no idea that a flutist could make so much difference to a football team’s success.