TAMPA — All season, defense has been the calling card for Sarasota Riverview. And on Thursday night, the Rams turned in yet another excellent defensive effort as they defeated Plant 44-41 in the 6A region quarterfinals.
The Rams held Plant to 16 second-half points.
"It was a tough loss and way to end out season, but I'm real proud of our team," Panthers coach Carrie Mahon said. One of our goals in this game was to leave it all out there, and I think we did that.
"I wouldn't want to go to battle with any other team than the players in our locker room."
Holding a 25-22 lead, Plant started the third quarter by scoring two straight baskets to extend its lead to seven. But Riverview answered with a 16-2 run to take back control.
Plant had plenty of fight left.
With just less than three minutes remaining and Riverview leading 42-37, Panthers sophomore Zayna Beckles got to the line on two straight possessions thanks to key offensive rebounds. Beckles connected on three of her next four attempts to bring Plant within two.
After a Riverview miss on its next possession, Plant ran a set play for a Kelly Brannan jump shot that didn't fall. But Beckles was there again as she gathered the rebound and was fouled with 18 seconds remaining. Beckles made the first free throw to bring the Panthers within one. But her second attempt was off the mark and Riverview was able to secure the rebound.
After being fouled, Sarasota Riverview senior Ashley Losch calmly sank both free throws to give the Rams a 44-41 lead. Plant had one last chance to tie, but Brannan's 3-point attempt was off the mark.