Riverview wraps up playoff spot with dominant senior-night win over Brentwood

Monday, February 3, 2020 | 11:19 PM

The Riverview girls basketball team honored its six seniors — Francesca Lio, Sydney McDonough, Annie Betler, Alivia Schultheis, Alyssa Cappa and Mikaela Collins — before Monday’s tip off with Section 2-2A rival Brentwood.

The celebration continued throughout the key section clash.

The Raiders forced 25 Spartans turnovers, controlled the boards and produced one of their highest point outputs of the season in a 58-34 home victory.

The win clinched a spot in the WPIAL playoffs for Riverview and eliminated Brentwood from postseason contention.

“I was a little nervous because it was senior night at home,” said Lio, who led all scorers with 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. “All of our emotions were up, but we came out with full energy, just like we did at their place. That’s what we had to do to win.”

Riverview improved to 12-8 overall and 5-5 in section play with section games at Springdale on Thursday and at home with Ellis on Saturday remaining.

The Raiders completed a season sweep of the Spartans. Riverview also topped Brentwood, 50-38, on Jan. 9.

Monday’s win came on the heels of a 54-23 rout of Class A power Greensburg Central Catholic last Wednesday.

“We held GCC last week to 23 points, and to come out and hold a good team like Brentwood to 34 points, that’s pretty special,” Riverview coach Keith Stitt said. “We’ve been playing well defensively, and we have to just keep it up.”

Led by six points from Betler and four more from Lio, coupled with nine Brentwood turnovers, Riverview built a 16-4 lead with 2 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Raiders then withstood a counter punch from the Spartans, an 11-2 run that closed the deficit to three at 18-15 with 5:15 left until halftime.

Betler got Riverview back on track with a jumper, and her teammates followed suit to the tune of an 11-0 run to close out the half.

Lio scored 11 of her 17 points in the third quarter, McDonough drained a 3-pointer, Cappa converted two layups and Betler added a jumper as Riverview used a 20-4 third-quarter advantage to all but put the game on ice.

“We had been preparing hard for this game, working on our defense for an hour each day,” said McDonough, who added 13 points for the Raiders. “It was nice to come together like this and have a great game all-around.”

Betler also finished in double figures with 10 points.

“We just kept up the momentum from the win over GCC,” Betler said. “We were solid on defense and patient on offense. It was a great team win.”

Cappa added six points and showed no ill affects from an ankle sprain suffered late in the win over GCC.

Schultheis and Collins contrbuted four points apiece.

Brentwood had hoped to build off last Thursday’s 44-36 win over playoff-bound Winchester Thurston and also gain a measure of revenge on the Raiders from the first time around. But it wasn’t to be for the Spartans players and coach Rachel Thomas, who saw her team fall to 6-13 overall and cap its section slate at 6-6.

“We just couldn’t get in a rhythm,” Thomas said. “Every time we tried to get something going, we were missing easy layups or were throwing the ball away. Riverview capitalized on everything. If they got a steal, they converted it into points. They were working hard for their seniors. That’s hard to battle.”

Paige Miller came off the bench to lead Brentwood with 14 points. Maura Daly added nine points for the Spartans.

Riverview’s Thursday’s section game at Springdale is varsity only at 7 p.m.

“We’ve been playing better and better the past several weeks,” Stitt said. “It’s a process, and we keep talking about continuing to get better each and every day and preparing so we can be at our best for the playoffs.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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