MUSKOGEE - A running one-hander by Emily Iverson with eight seconds left turned back an epic Roland comeback and won the Hilldale Tournament title for the Grove Lady Ridgerunners with a 48-47 win Saturday at the Hilldale Event Center.
The Lady Ridgerunners (3-0) used their dominance inside to build a 42-29 lead with 4:10 left in the game, but the Lady Rangers got eight points from guard Tia Smith and a pair of threes from Sidney Walters to tie the score at 45 with 48 seconds left.
After Grove's Mason Jeffries hit 1-of-2 free throws, Whitley Vann gave Roland its first lead since the opening period with a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left. Iverson followed that with the game-winner that saved the day after Roland's last -second shot went begging.
"We just got away from doing what we do," Grove head coach Richard Bassett said of his team's near-collapse. "We did it some in the first half too. Offensively, we started trying to do things we don't do and that led to turnovers."
What the Lady Ridgerunners did do over the first 3-1/2 quarters was dominate in the paint. Led by Mason Jeffries's 20 points and 12 rebounds, the trio of Jeffries, Taylor Dodson and Kat Johnson combined for 35 points and 20 rebounds, overwhelming Roland's own talented post player, Summer Tehee.
Dodson and Jeffries repeatedly drove to the basket, putting Tehee in foul trouble after she started with five quick points to give Roland the early lead.
"That's the thing about both of those girls," Bassett said. "They can create off the dribble. They put 34 [Tehee] in a bad way. She couldn't guard either one of them."
After scoring six points and grabbing three boards, Tehee picked up her third foul late in the opening period and spent most of the rest of the contest on the bench before fouling out early in the fourth.
Meanwhile the Lady Ridgerunners, after trailing 6-5 midway through the opening quarter, closed the period on a 12-4 run, led by Dodson's six points. Iverson, in a preview of things to come, hit a three at the buzzer on an inbounds play to put Grove up 17-10.
Roland would bounce back in the second quarter. Smith scored six points in the period, repeatedly getting into the lane. The Lady Rangers (4-1) scored six straight to open the second and led at halftime 25-23.
Grove would put the clamps on defensively in the third, holding Roland to just two points and forcing five turnovers. Johnson, meanwhile, scored five points to lead the Lady Ridgerunners to a 37-27 lead heading into the fourth. Her put back with 4:10 left in the game gave the Lady Ridgerunners their biggest lead of the game.
That was before the wheels fell off for Grove, and before Iverson saved the day.
"I'm really proud of them," Bassett said. "It's a great start to the year."
Smith led Roland with 16 points, while Walters scored 12 points on four threes.
Dodson finished with nine points for Grove, while Johnson added seven.