NEW PORT RICHEY — The Royal Knights shuffled into the locker room at halftime, frustrated. They had the lead, but not by much.
River Ridge pulled ahead in the second half for a decisive 51-29 win against district rival Fivay (3-3).
The win keeps the Royal Knights (8-1) close behind undefeated Gulf in Class 5A, District 8.
River Ridge coach Joeyn Dearsman said the players were irritated with themselves at halftime when they led by just three. The defense kept the team afloat, she added.
“When you’re shooting 25 percent, it’s easy to fall into a hole,” Dearsman said. “So we just tried to regroup and stayed positive.”
The Falcons were missing their top scorer. Alicia Artley, who had 27 points and 19 rebounds against Tarpon Springs last week, was out with a boot on her leg after sustaining an injury in practice.
Fivay had the lead at the end of the first quarter, 9-5. River Ridge tied it at 11 on a free throw by Leah Ford with about five minutes left in the half.
Just less than three minutes remained in the half when Justine Vega made her first field goal, giving the Royal Knights a two-point lead. They never relinquished it.
The teams kept it close in the third quarter, but Fivay couldn’t hold off the Royal Knights in the fourth. River Ridge had 20 points, 12 of which came from 3-pointers in the last few minutes. Eve Hay scored three 3-pointers with just a few minutes remaining, and Jax Evers tacked on another one.
Hay led the Royal Knights with 14 points. Ford had 13, and Mackenzie Kistler had nine.
Megan Tate scored 12 for the Falcons. Keira Libby had seven, and Amber Taylor and Jamie Tate each had four.