Riverdale coach Micheal Burt has called the postseason a 10-round fight because a team needs 10 wins to capture a state title.
Every game equals one round, and every win put Riverdale closer to the 10th round.
The Lady Warriors got to the 10th round Saturday night at Murphy Center and scored the biggest knockout in school history with a 51-40 win over Memphis Northside for the Class AAA state title.
"It's really indescribable," Burt said. "How do you describe a team that went 38-3? Everybody played. This was huge.
"We had to change our defense," he added. "Once we changed our defense we started to speed up the game. We controlled the momentum."
It's Riverdale's first girls basketball title and the first for a Murfreesboro school since 1924 — it's only the second in city history — when Central beat Nashville Peabody 22-20. It was Riverdale's second appearance in the title game. In 1979 Riverdale lost to Warren County 40-35 in the last six-on-six basketball game in state history.
"We had bigger engine than every team," said Riverdale senior guard Anne Marie Lanning, who scored 24 points, grabbed seven rebounds, had five assists and was named Class AAA Tournament MVP. "We may not have the most amazing team, but nobody played with more heart."
Northside (30-5) decided to slow down the game, and for one quarter the strategy worked well as it led 5-4 entering the second stanza. In the second, however, Riverdale (38-3) took the lead and built a 24-14 advantage entering halftime.
"We were trying to keep our fouls down," Northside coach Donald Holmes said of slowing down the game. "We were trying to shorten the game. I knew they had a (heck of a) free-throw shooting team."
Defense, which is always critical in team sports, played a huge role in deciding the outcome.
Riverdale held Northside to 27 percent shooting in the first half and 37 percent for the night. The Lady Cougars were forced to abandon their game plan because they faced a deficit.
"Tempo was everything," Burt said. "They did a good job early. We had to make some shots."
Junior forward Shellina Burgess, who was named to the Class AAA All-Tournament Team, scored eight points for Riverdale.
"It was a lot of fun," Burgess said. "We knew we wanted to win state."
Riverdale senior guard Alex Bivens, who was named to the Class AAA All-Tournament team, scored 10 points.
Northside junior Latasha Walls scored 16 points, while junior Jasmine Raynor netted 10.