GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Vista Ridge beats Cedar Ridge to advance to regional semifinals

Posted

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. 

The Lady Rangers rallied in the fourth quarter to down the Lady Raiders 53-52 in a game where the two teams combined for 35 fouls to punch their ticket to the regional tournament for the first time since 2016 and the first time since jumping up to Class 6A. 

“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.”

Vista Ridge sophomore A.J. Marotte scored 16 points for the Lady Rangers. Victoria Baker added 11 points, senior Jasmyn Taylor scored 10 points and junior Zion Neat finished with eight points off the bench.
Senior Taryn Wills led Cedar Ridge with 15 points and Tamasha Hamilton scored 11 points. Freshman Jordyn Marshall and senior Kierstyn Rossow each finish with nine points on three 3-pointers a piece. The Lady Raiders hit 10 triples in total. 

“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.”

Follow @ByZachSmith and @HCNSports on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news on all local and regional sports. 

Email: sports@hillcountrynews.com

Comments