STERLING – The good news: Newman held Riverdale star Hannah Nimrick to nine points. The bad news: Sydney Mericle got loose for a game-high 17.
Mericle led the Rams to a 52-36 Three Rivers win over the Comets on Tuesday night at Newman.
Elle May added 11 points, Jess Corson eight and Lauren Claus seven for Riverdale (21-2, 12-1), which is tied for 10th in the Class 2A AP poll, as the Rams' starters did all the scoring and played nearly the entire way.
"I was really proud of our posts," said Newman's Aubree Schmitt, who scored 11 points. "They held [Nimrick] to single digits. Our guards probably should have stepped it up, but we were helping on Nimrick. Then, they would beat us back-cutting."
The Comets (13-11, 8-5) hung tough early, despite falling behind 14-6 in the first minute of the second quarter. Newman whittled the margin to three on three occasions in the period, the last at 19-16 on a bucket from the left elbow by Rachel Hageman, who scored eight of her 10 points in the quarter.
"We were playing really tough. I felt good about it," Hageman said. "The first half was promising, because it showed that we can keep up with them."
Riverdale scored the last three points of the first half and the first seven points of the second half to open up a 29-16 advantage just over 2 minutes into the third quarter. Newman was never within single digits again.
"We needed to focus on coming out in the second half and playing like we did in the first," Hageman said.
Riverdale's largest lead was 24 at 47-23 with 4:50 to play.
"We really weren't even getting shots off," Newman coach Jay Howell said of the Rams' decisive burst. "They turned us over quite a bit, and when you get after them, they're good at countering what you're doing."
Hageman would like another crack at the Rams.
"Hopefully we see them again in the regional final and take care of things better," she said.
Newman was handcuffed a bit by foul trouble. Four of its five starters had at least two fouls in the first half, with two of them picking up three.
"That was definitely a little bothersome," Hageman said. "There were a few questionable calls."
Star of the game: Sydney Mericle, Riverdale, 17 points, 13 in 2nd half
Key performers: Elle May, Riverdale, 11 points; Aubree Schmitt, Newman, 11 points; Rachel Hageman, Newman, 10 points
Up next: Morrison at Newman, 7:30 p.m. Friday