South Side girls use 3rd-quarter surge to take down Riverview in 1st round

Thursday, February 14, 2019 | 1:30 AM

Riverview did pretty much everything a lower-seeded team would want to do in the first half.

The Raiders came out and shot well. They held the lead for a while and got to halftime tied. But on the other side of the court was a South Side Beaver team determined to put its past playoff struggles in the rear-view mirror.

The No. 6-seeded Rams came out on fire from beyond the arc in the third quarter and eventually pulled away from No. 11 Riverview for a 52-41 victory in the first round of the WPIAL Class 2A girls basketball playoffs Friday night at Hampton.

It was the first playoff win in eight seasons for South Side Beaver’s husband and wife co-head coaches Dave and Debby Wilson in their sixth postseason appearance.

After going into halftime with the score tied 20-20, South Side connected on four 3-pointers in the third quarter, including two from Sydney Payne, who had a game-high 24 points. They outscored the Raiders, 16-7, in the quarter to take a 36-27 lead. The Rams hit nine 3-pointers in the game.

“I’m proud of the effort, but we just need to make a few more shots,” Riverview coach Keith Stitt said. “Give them credit. They shot the ball well. We had some missed assignments. We didn’t get back on defense a couple of times, and we didn’t locate our man or the shooter in general a few times, which gave them some uncontested looks.”

The Rams (15-8) advanced to play No. 3 Laurel in the quarterfinals Thursday at a time and site to be announced. Riverview finished 9-13.

It was a sweet moment for the Rams to finally break through for a long-awaited playoff win.

“The kids really wanted this game, and I think we came ready to play,” Debby Wilson said. “It was close in the first half, but we were able to open it up some in the second half.”

A Sydney McDonough 3-pointer cut South Side’s lead to 45-40 with five minutes remaining in the fourth, but that was as close as Riverview would get. The Raiders had opportunities to make it a one-score game but came up empty on a couple possessions — one off a turnover — before Jess Barber made a 3-pointer to make it an eight-point game.

“I thought we panicked a little bit, and our shot selection wasn’t very good in the fourth quarter,” Stitt said. “When we did get stops, we came down the other end and didn’t get a score. You have to get a score. They work so doggone hard on the defensive end to get a stop and then go down and can’t come up with nothing. We’ve struggled with it all year. We just get in a hurry and don’t get good looks.”

South Side went 7 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final minute-and-a-half to put the game way. Payne, a junior and a Youngstown State softball commit, had five of those free throws. She also made four 3-pointers, including one of the contested and off-balance variety as time expired in the first quarter. Barber had 13 points, and Carissa McNary scored nine.

“Sydney has done really well for us this year,” Wilson said. “The nice thing about Sidney is that she never really gets nervous. She’s always the same, and she’s a confident kid. She plays hard and is really gutsy. In past years, we really only had (Alexis Chiccarello) and Jess (Barber) that could really score, and other teams knew that. This year, anyone on our team can score.”

Riverview came out strong and led 16-15 after a fast-paced first quarter. McDonugh and Alyssa Cappa had seven points apiece in the first.

Neither team scored in the first four minutes of the second before Payne ended the drought with a free throw and then gave the Rams the lead on the next possession with a layup. McDonough made a 3-pointer a few moments later for Riverview’s lone field goal in the second quarter.

McDonough finished with a team-high 20 points, and Cappa ended with 10 points.

Riverview returns its entire team next season.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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