MORRISTOWN - The outcome is the most important objective in tournament basketball, but not even that was enough to stop River head coach Rick Isaly from shaking his head.
"What can you say?," Isaly asked. "I think this had to be our worst performance of the season."
Even with that being the case, the Lady Pilots still found a way to get it done.
RIVER’S Laken Ramsay goes up for a shot as Frontier’s Jenna Maston defends during Monday’s Division IV tournament game at Union Local. Ramsay scored 12 points to lead the Lady Pilots to a 39-30 victory.
Scoring nearly as many points as it had in the first three periods, River (17-6) used a strong fourth quarter to fend off a scrappy Frontier (14-9) squad in Monday's nightcap at Union Local High School, 39-30, to advance in the Division IV sectional tournament.
"I am just glad to get out of here with a win and move on," Isaly said. "Having said that, we didn't do any of the things we worked on or that we asked the girls to do."
Regardless what area of the game you examine, the Lady Pilots just didn't play well. They struggled from the field, shot just 10-of-26 from the foul line and had 20 turnovers.
"We didn't have one girl get into any sort of flow on offense," Isaly lamented. "I don't know. We had probably our best week of practice and I really thought we'd play a good game tonight, but it sure didn't happen that way. We know that this time of the year that if you don't play well, you normally go home."
Isaly is correct that all of the Lady Pilots' aforementioned ingredients are usually a recipe for disaster.
However, Frontier struggled just as badly in all aspects except the foul line, but it didn't make nearly as many trips.
The Lady Cougars had 20 turnovers, missed upwards of 40 shots from the field, including several point-blank chances on the interior.
"We feel fortunate to be moving on," Isaly admitted.
River appeared to have righted itself when it scored 10 straight from the late second to the early portion of the third period. During that stretch, Frontier was called for a technical foul and a fan was ejected from the gym.
The Lady Pilots grabbed a 23-15 lead with six minutes to go in the third after sophomore Haylee Bowers converted a conventional three-point play.
"I thought we had finally gotten into the flow of things in the third, but then we let them get right back in the game," Isaly said.
The Lady Cougars actually closed the third with the final 10 points and took a 25-23 lead into the final chapter.
Frontier had a chance to go up four on the first possession of the fourth, but missed another layup.
Laken Ramsay, who led the Lady Pilots with 12 points, connected on a short jumper and frosh Jensen Caretti was true on a pair of foul shots, giving the Pilots the lead back. The game was tied at 29, but River scored the next five, including a steal and layup by talented senior Cassidy McCullough, who scored only seven as she battled foul trouble much of the night.
"It's definitely good to have this game behind us," Isaly said. "
Isaly was complemented in the scoring column by Bowers' 10 points. Caretti had eight points, 13 rebounds and she blocked five shots.
Junior Kelsea Daugherty led Frontier with nine points.
Isaly said his players admitted to him after the game they realize must play better on Thursday if they wish to continue the season.
River will tangle with 21-2 Bridgeport in the lower bracket sectional final at 8 p.m. The teams split their regular-season matchups with each winning on the other's home floor.
The winner of Thursday's encounter will advance to the district tournament at New Philadelphia High School on Feb. 28.
FRONTIER (30) - Daugherty 2, 5-8 9; Hinton 0, 0-0 0; Bowersock 0, 0-0 0; Maston 0, 0-0 0; Hurst 0, 0-0 0; Ogaz 3, 0-0 6; Fickiesen 3, 0-0 6; K. Rinard 1, 3-4 5; T. Rinard 0, 0-0 0; Camino 2, 0-2 4; Totals: 11, 8-14 30. RIVER (39) - Lak. Ramsay 4, 3-6 12; Lan. Ramsay 1, 0-3 2; Jones 0, 0-0 0; Bowers 4, 2-7 10; Weaver 0, 0-0 0; McCullough 3, 1-4 7; Caretti 2, 4-6 8; Young 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 14, 10-26 39.
Three-Point Goals: F - None. R - Lak. Ramsay.
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