TARPON SPRINGS — The free-throw line was kind to River Ridge on Wednesday night.
The visiting Royal Knights hit 20 of 30 attempts while taking out Class 5A District 8 foe Tarpon Springs, 55-31.
“In the first part of the season we were struggling big time from the line,” said River Ridge coach Joeyn Dearsman. “The last few weeks we’ve actually started taking it to the basket and we’ve been converting.”
Three Royal Knights scored in double figures, led by Justine Vega’s 14 points, as River Ridge jumped out to a 6-1 lead and never looked back.
Along with their ability to get to the line, Dearsman said the Royal Knights’ defensive effort improved markedly from last night’s 58-40 setback against league No. 1 Gulf High.
“I felt confident going into yesterday’s game with Gulf but I don’t know what happened. We played horrible. Not to take anything away from Gulf, they’re the best team in the district, hands-down, but we absolutely did not execute at all.”
That defense helped force struggling Tarpon Springs into 21 turnovers on the night.
“It was good to come in here and do this,” Dearsman said. “We definitely played better defensively. It was a good bounce-back game for us tonight.”
The Spongers managed to reach double digits in only one quarter Wednesday, scoring 14 in the third. Tia Tucker turned in a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Tarpon Springs, but a 10-3 run in the third was the only consistent offensive production the Spongers could muster. Danielle Romagnuolo’s 3-pointer at the final buzzer represented their only made field goal of the fourth quarter.
River Ridge (15-5, 9-3) currently sits at third in the league standings and can still jump second-place Land O’ Lakes before district tournament play begins. The Royal Knights take on LOL next Friday at home.
RR - 18 – 10 – 14 – 13 --- 55
TS - 7 – 5 – 14 – 5 --- 31
River Ridge (15-5, 9-3)
Justine Vega – 14 points
Leah Ford – 13 points
MacKenzie Kistler – 11 points
Tia Tucker – 11 points, 10 rebounds
Zoe Lekakis – 9 points
Danielle Romagnuolo – 7 points