MORRISTOWN - Conotton Valley set the tone early by scoring the first nine points of the game Thursday evening.
River never recovered and the Lady Rockets never looked back.
Conotton Valley punched its ticket to the Division IV District Tournament next Thursday after a convincing 45-29 victory at Union Local High School in the sectional co-final.
RIVER’S Jensen Caretti goes up for a shot against Conotton Valley’s Olivia Bower during Thursday’s Division IV sectional game at Union Local High School. The Lady Rockets prevailed, 45-29.
"We couldn't get anything going," lamented River head coach Rick Isaly.
The Lady Rockets will try to avenge their only loss of the season at New Philadelphia High School next week when they tangle with Zanesville Rosecrans, which thumped Toronto, 66-21, in the lidlifter.
The game was expected to be a showdown of two of the Eastern District's premier underclassmen with River's Jensen Caretti and Conotton's Olivia Bower.
Caretti wasn't up to her normal standard, but Isaly disclosed after the game that she had rolled her ankle in practice on Wednesday. The slight injury limited her athleticism.
"That ankle bothered her the whole time and definitely affected her game," Isaly said. "When she did shoot the ball a few times, she was hurting."
Caretti didn't record a field goal until there was one minute to go in the third quarter. She managed to finish with a team-high 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked three shots and had three steals.
Bower, who was defending Caretti much of the night, scored 10 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots.
The difference in the game was Bower's supporting cast came up huge as it has most of the season.
"Conotton Valley is a nice ball team," Isaly said. "There's a reason they've won all of the games they have so far. They've got nice guards and their big girls are talented."
The Lady Rockets seized control without Bower having to score much. She scored six points in the first half and Conotton owned a 27-12 lead at the intermission.
River (15-7) was never able to get any sort of run going. Each time the Lady Pilots tallied, Conotton had an answer. Plus, River was charted for 19 turnovers and seemingly couldn't get out of its own way.
"We couldn't do most of the things we normally try to do because Jensen's athletic ability wasn't up to full par," Isaly said.
Taylor Russell scored 11 points to pace the Lady Rockets. Piper Edie and Chandice Cottis each had eight points.
Caretti's production was complemented by junior Haley Bowers. She scored 10 points.
The Lady Rockets held a commanding 38-19 edge on the glass and were charted for two fewer turnovers.
CONOTTON VALLEY (45) - Cottis 2, 4-4 8; Bower 4, 2-2 10; Edie 3, 1-3 8; Belknap 1, 5-6 7; Russell 4, 2-4 11; Romeo 0, 1-2 1; Totals: 14, 15-21. RIVER (29) - Caretti 3, 4-4 11; Goudy 0, 0-0 0; Ramsay 0, 2-2 2; Caldwell 1, 1-2 3; Bowers 5, 0-4 10; Karpacs 0, 0-0 0; Potts 0, 0-0 0; Marshall 0, 0-2 0; Curtis 0, 1-2 1; Winkler 1, 0-0 2; Totals: 10, 8-16 29.
3-point goals: CV - Russell, Edie. R - Caretti.