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Jonesboro girls overcome slow start for 41-30 win

Photo by Jerry Jackson
Jonesboro guard Briana Benson (No.4) splits a couple Riverdale defenders as she looks to score during first half action of the Region 4-AAAA, Div. B game on Friday.

Photo by Jerry Jackson Jonesboro guard Briana Benson (No.4) splits a couple Riverdale defenders as she looks to score during first half action of the Region 4-AAAA, Div. B game on Friday.

RIVERDALE — When the Riverdale girls’ basketball team looks back on its home game with Region 4-AAAA, Div. B power Jonesboro, missed opportunities will most likely come to mind.

The Lady Raiders had several empty trips down the stretch as they failed to get the game down to one possession. Jonesboro, in one of its more lackluster games of the season held off Riverdale 41-30 for the win on the road.

“We just fell short,” Riverdale coach Jacquesa Smith said. “We missed 13 free throws, key layups, [and] key rebounds. We just didn’t finish the game.”

After a steal and subsequent foul sent Riverdale guard Angel Cooper to the foul line, the freshman made one of two free throws to bring Riverdale within 33-29 with 4:30 left to play. Briana Benson then scored the next three Jonesboro points — her first three of the game to put the Lady Cardinals up 36-30. Riverdale’s Toni Thomas was called for a charge with 2:49 left to go and Riverdale trailing 36-30.

Some 20 seconds passed when Cooper missed two free throws, and about a minute ticked off before Michaelle Smith stepped in front of an errant Lady Raiders pass. Benson and Victoria Sutton salted the game away at the foul line for Jonesboro, as Riverdale was forced to foul.

Jonesboro got the win despite committing 19 turnovers on the night.

“We started slow,” Jonesboro coach Lamar Harris said. “We turned the ball over five times early, which is not typical of us. We came out [in the third quarter] with a little bit of energy, but again we lost focus.

Riverdale tied the game 7-7 in the first quarter after a Cooper steal and three-point play.

Mahogany Hall’s 3-pointer in the final seconds of the quarter gave Jonesboro a 10-7 lead. The Lady Cardinals led 20-9 at halftime, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Anastasia Winder and Thomas brought the Lady Raiders within 31-24 at the end of the third quarter.

With the loss, Riverdale fell to 9-11 overall and 6-5 in the subregion.

“I like the fact that my team has the personality to persevere, to not to quit,” Smith said. “Eventually we will be successful. We’ve come a long way and we’ve got to keep on going.”

Thomas led Riverdale with nine points. Ashley Hand led Jonesboro with 11 points and Victoria Florence added nine points. Kimberly Dawkins finished with seven points and 11 rebounds.

“It was her night,” Harris said of Hand and the depth of his team’s scoring. “She’s been working hard, she’s been consistent. We expect that out of her.”