Alexa Middleton led the Lady Warriors with 20 points.
A championship was won, and a dynasty continued for the Riverdale High School girls basketball team as it won its third TSSAA state title in four years Saturday afternoon inside the Murphy Center.
The Lady Warriors knocked off Science Hill, 78-69, and finished off a perfect 35-0 season as the top-ranked team in the state and in the nation. For seniors Tiffany Lewis, Tyisha Petty and Olivia Jones it was their third title in four years. For all involved it was a special way to finish off a championship.
“It just shows how hard we have worked all year to remain undefeated record,” junior guard Alexa Middleton said. “Everyone had been talking about it, but we just put it on the side until now.”
However, it was Middleton, who led the way for the Lady Warriors with 20 points. She was one of four RHS starters in double figures. Petty added 16 and Jones finished with a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Junior post player Shelbie Davenport added 13, and the fifth starter Tiffany Lewis chipped in with eight.
Overall, first year Lady Warrior head coach Cory Barrett was pleased with everyone on the team this year and he credited all of them for the undefeated season.
“They are so unselfish, and all of our kids come ready to play and make these players better,” Barrett said. “It has been a total team effort, we could have not done what we done without those people.”
It was one of toughest challenges on the season as the Lady Hilltoppers did not want a repeat of last season’s title game, which they also fell to the Lady Warriors, 70-55. Unlike the first meeting this season between the schools, which RHS won 89-70 on Dec. 22; Science Hill was able to hang with Riverdale for most of the game.
Early in the final quarter, the Lady Hilltoppers cut the lead to two, 58-56 with 7:08 left in the game. RHS, however, answered 11-2 run to put the game away, which included 3-pointers by Middleton and Lewis. SHHS was only able to cut it down to seven late the game, but RHS hung on to bring another title back to Murfreesboro.
The win also meant something to the Lady Warriors off the court as during warm-ups, they honored Taylor Filorimo, one of their fellow classmates and Riverdale softball player who passed away from cancer during the fall, by wearing lime green warm-up shirts, which said Play for Tay. The Lady Warriors also wore pink shoes honoring that battling breast cancer.
“We wanted to get a shooting shirt to honor her when we ran out on the floor,” Barrett said. “The pink shoes were provided by Nike during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in February. It is a very good part for our program."
For the RHS players and coaches, winning the title meant much more off the court.
In other news, Nina Davis, from Memphis Central was named Class AAA Miss Basketball after the title game. Middleton and Jones were also finalists for the award.
Next week, it’s the boys TSSAA state tournament also in Murfreesboro.
Siegel and Blackman will both be in the Class AAA bracket.
Also today, the bracket was filled out and both SHS and BHS will play on Wednesday. The Blaze faces Brentwood at 11:45 a.m., while the Stars will take on Maryville at 3:15 p.m. All tournament games will be at the Murphy Center.