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LAWRENCEVILLE — The Riverdale Lady Warriors came to Georgia with a perfect record and left in the same manner.
Led by Tennessee commit Anastasia Hayes, Riverdale (TN) extended its overall record to 15-0 with a 69-50 win over Norcross during the Krossover Classic at Archer High on January 14.
“We got a great test tonight from a very talented Norcross team,” Riverdale coach Randy Coffman said. “They are well coached and have a great deal of tradition. When you add those things together it makes for a great matchup for both of us. It’s a point in the season where we are getting ready to hit that tournament stretch. For us to hook horns tonight and play a great basketball team was really exciting for us.”
Hayes, a 5-10 senior guard, scored a game-high 25 points but more importantly put the ball through the net when the Lady Warriors needed a basket.
“She’s such a talented kid with the basketball in her hands,” Coffman said. “She’s a top-10 kid in the country. She’s got a chance to do special things in her career. I think right now we are seeing a young lady who wants to see her team finish on top.”
In the first quarter with Riverdale trailing by two, Hayes made a layup to trigger the Lady Warriors’ first big run. Afterwards, Hayes found Alexis Whittington (14 points) for a layup, which gave them the lead for good, and Hayes tacked on another finish at the basket before her younger sister Aislynn Hayes (13 points) converted back-to-back layups for a 14-6 score and a Norcross timeout.
Entering the contest as the No. 1 ranked team in Georgia according to MaxPreps, the Lady Blue Devils (17-2) did have a response after falling behind by 11.
Early in the second quarter, Miami commit Taylor Mason (16 points) made a layup to spark a 9-0 run, which was capped on a three-point play by fellow senior and South Florida commit Vanessa Blagmon (16 points) for 21-19 margin. Later in the frame, Blagmon tied the score at 23-23 on a layup with 3:02 left before halftime.
But to no surprise, Anastasia Hayes had an answer on the other end, putting Riverdale back ahead by two with a layup while being fouled. Then she found Aislynn Hayes for a 3-pointer and Aislynn returned the favor by finding her older sister for a layup.
“Every time I pass to my teammates, I know they are going to make it,” Anastasia Hayes said. “I’m 95 percent sure they are going to make it because I just have that much confidence in my teammates.”
Whittington added a layin to cap the 9-0 spurt, which eventually led to the Lady Warriors leading 32-25 at the half.
“One of the big things we preach in our program is to share the basketball,” Coffman said. “Our goal is not who gets the most points but who shares the basketball the most. We try to get 20 assists every night and that is something our team prides itself on. I felt like we really shared the ball tonight too.”
After the break, Riverdale pushed its advantage to 12 points but entered the final period only ahead six. In the fourth, the Lady Warriors, who are ranked No. 2 in Tennessee according to MaxPreps, quickly rebuilt the margin to double digits and kept it there the remainder of the contest.
“This says how hard we play and we came out confident,” Anastasia Hayes said. “We studied this team all week and we were ready.”