Kayli O’Riley seemingly spent just as much time on the floor diving for loose balls and taking charges than she did standing upright in Tuesday night’s regional quarterfinal showdown between District 13-6A foes Vista Ridge and Cedar Ridge.
“It was a rush,” O’Riley said. “It was probably one of the best games where we worked together so well. We calmed each other down. If something bad happened, we told each other it didn’t matter.”
“We were prepared for a game like this and I thought our kids didn’t back down,” Cedar Ridge head coach Kevin Lewis said. “This one stings because we had a chance to win that game. But I’m proud of them after everything they’ve done all year. It takes a lot of hard work to get to this level.”
Vista Ridge beat Cedar Ridge in both meetings during district play, winning 56-48 at Cedar Ridge on Jan. 2 and 46-36 at home on Feb. 1. In both games, the Lady Rangers rallied from a first-half deficit to win.
But the blueprint for Tuesday’s intense comeback was drawn up long before those district games.
“Those kids learned in the Duncanville tournament that you can’t rely on officiating, you’ve got to play through difficult things and overcome some physicality,” Vista Ridge head coach Keith Allen said. “We’ve been in that position before so I told them in the locker room that it’s the same story, just a different game.”
Marotte and Neat hit back-to-back 3-pointers to keep the Lady Rangers close in the first quarter, but Wills answered with a driving layup late for the Lady Raiders. The fouls started piling up in the second quarter, but the long-range shooting started heating up, too, and Cedar Ridge led by just one point at the break.
Vista Ridge scored six of the first eight points in the third quarter, but Rossow nailed an open 3-pointer for Cedar Ridge and the Lady Raiders went on an 8-0 run to grab all the momentum and build a five-point lead.
Rossow fouled out early in the final quarter and Hamilton was helped off the court with an injury.
Marotte made a layup along the baseline to give Vista Ridge a 46-45 lead with less than four minutes left, and the Lady Rangers hit seven of their 10 free throw shots in the fourth quarter to hold off Cedar Ridge for the third time this season.
“These kids have overcome a lot of obstacles, and I’m really proud of them and how they won in a really tough environment,” Allen said.
Of the Cedar Ridge players on the scoresheet on Tuesday, only two won’t be back next season. And the playoff roster listed two freshmen and five sophomores, so this won’t be the last time the Lady Raiders are at this stage of the year.
“They’ll use this as an opportunity to fuel their opportunity and look to get back here next season,” Lewis said. “But we’re graduating four kids, and they were an integral part of what we do. We need to have some other kids step up so we can get back to this stage next year and win the game.”
Prosper is next on the schedule for the Lady Rangers in the regional semifinals later this week at the Davis Field House in Dallas.
The Lady Eagles beat Vista Ridge 84-75 in double overtime earlier in the year at the Pflugerville tournament. Baylor commit and five-star guard Jordyn Oliver scored more than half of Prosper’s points in the win.
“I feel like these kids know they can compete with (Prosper),” Allen said. “They’ve got a really special player and a really good team. But for us to take our 6A program to the regional tournament, I’m just really happy for where we’re headed.”