The fact that Saturday’s girls’ basketball showdown between No. 1 Riverdale Baptist and No. 9 H.D. Woodson came down to a final free throw was surprising. The Warriors trailed by 16 points heading into the fourth quarter, mounted a furious comeback and tied the score on a floater by Janae Blount with just more than two seconds left.
But then came a sequence that left one team shaking its head and the other celebrating a narrow victory. Following a hectic inbounds play, Riverdale Baptist senior Jennie Simms hit one of two free throws with two seconds left to lift the private school power to a 77-76 win in the Uptown Hoopfest showcase tournament at Carroll.
“When the first one went in and kind of came out, I was just like, ‘I just have to make another one,’” said Simms, a West Virginia recruit who tore ligaments in her shoulder in a game on Thursday and will see a specialist Tuesday. “The game is secure because they can’t really score with two seconds left.”
Riverdale Baptist (13-1) opened up a 64-48 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but H.D. Woodson (10-3) made up for its lack of size with tenacious defense. The Warriors, the six-time defending D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Conference champions, attacked the basket and drew fouls.
H.D. Woodson senior guard Chanel Green (21 points), a Providence recruit, went to the foul line an astonishing 18 times in the game, hitting all but one free throw.
“We tried to pressure them and cause some turnovers and make our free throws,” H.D. Woodson Coach Frank Oliver Jr. said. “When you’re down, we had no choice but to do that.”
Riverdale Baptist guard Kelila Atkinson, a Wake Forest recruit, drew a foul and hit one of two free throws with 7.6 seconds left to pull the Crusaders ahead, 76-74. But H.D. Woodson tied the score when Blount hit her shot.
Then came the frenzy. Riverdale Baptist’s Jonquel Jones (22 points) immediately threw the ball inbounds to Simms, who tried to throw the ball up to draw a foul from Green, Coach Diane Richardson said. A referee blew a whistle, but some thought the game was headed to overtime. Oliver said the foul came after the buzzer and that it wasn’t committed against Simms.
“I was like, ‘Well, just put it up. We [were] tied up, so I might as well just put it up,’” said Simms, who finished with nine points. “. . . The ref saw it and called the foul. I knew [H.D. Woodson] was going to try and fight it.”
After both coaches argued their cases and the referees conferred for nearly five minutes, with parents on each side shouting, the referees sent Simms to the line to shoot two and secure the victory.