The Lady Knights have reached the postseason in each of the last three seasons, but this year they will be hanging around a bit longer.
River Ridge held off Grady for a 48-43 victory Tuesday night in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
The performance wasn’t one of the team’s best, but coach Jason Taylor wasn’t complaining. It was the Lady Knights’ first postseason win in three attempts.
“A win is a win,” Taylor said. “It feels good to make it (to the second round). A lot of relief for as many layups as we missed and as poorly as I feel we played. But you have to give Grady credit. They pressured us with man-to-man defense and we didn’t respond well. But a win is a win and we’ll take it.”
River Ridge (21-8) trailed by a few baskets early, but found a spark from Jordan Livesay, who put her team up 9-8 with a 3-pointer midway through the first.
Livesay added a couple more points at the free-throw line before Maggie Sigler made her only shot of the game — a 3 to put River Ridge up 17-10.
Grady added a basket before the end of the period for a 17-12 score after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Grady’s Vanderia Shackleford took over. The junior made scored nine points in the quarter, including a pair of free throws as her team outscored River Ridge 16-12. Jasmine Rich’s free throws with 1.7 seconds left in the half brought Grady to within win 29-28.
Both teams upped the defense in the second half.
River Ridge used a full-court press at times, while Grady played man-to-man. The result was a low-scoring quarter that saw a basket by the Lady Knights’ Parker Nayman as one of the highlights. Grady was held to six points, but River Ridge didn’t do much better, managing just nine.
River Ridge led 38-24 entering the third, and once again, defense was tough and fouls were common.
Grady cut the deficit to three 42-39 with 2 minutes remaining before Jessica Mlaska scored on a layup, which gave River Ridge a two-possession lead.
Grady added a pair of free throws before Lucy Stone scored off a steal. Naria Woods then made a basket for Grady to cut the lead down to three again with 33 seconds left.
But River Ridge finally sealed up the game with 15 second left, when Jessica Baker made both attempts of a 1-and-1 at the free-throw line.
Livesay led River Ridge with 19 points. Nayman added 10, while five other players scored at least two points.
Taylor said he is excited to host another home game Friday against Chestatee.
“One of their goals was to hang a region banner in the gym and then advance in the state tournament,” Taylor said. “We won one. Now, we are going to look to win another. We are just going to take it a game at a time.”