If accidents and ailments were the measuring sticks of a basketball team, Riverbend's girls wouldn't be playing anymore. Luckily for the Bears, wins and losses still are the standard of success.
Last night, host Riverbend defeated defending state champion Jamestown, 53-36, in an AA Region I semifinal to clinch its third straight state tournament berth.
Of the Bears' top three scorers, one was involved in a frightening car accident on Sunday night and another missed time during last night's game as she vomited into a large garbage can.
Presiding over the team is Riverbend Coach Claude Tyler, who missed three games in January after a weightlifting accident left him with a broken bone below his right eye and a gash that required 16 stitches.
"We're just an ordinary bunch," a chuckling Tyler said. "If we weren't winning, they'd probably call us the Bad News Bears."
Despite their travails, the Bears (24-3) are indeed winning -- they're up to 19 straight after last night.
One key component to that success is Stacy Griffith, a 6-foot senior forward with a perpetually nervous stomach. Last night, with 5 minutes 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter, she put one hand over her mouth, the other hand on her stomach and made a beeline for the bench, where a trainer was waiting with garbage can at the ready.
Griffith (13 points) said she vomits on nearly every game day from getting so worked up.
"I don't know when, but it's going to come out," she said.
When Griffith left last night, Riverbend had a commanding 34-17 lead. Seconds later, senior guard Kierra Parker (15 points) made a three-pointer to extend the lead to 20, but Jamestown (20-6) scored seven unanswered points until Griffith returned from the locker room and scored to end the run.
Sophomore Meredyth Frye scored eight of her career-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, two days after setting her previous high of 15 points in the region quarterfinal. Considering she was in a car that flipped over a few times during an accident on Sunday, it's been an impressive week for the 5-foot-10 guard-forward.
The accident "really helped me to play," said Frye, who doesn't remember much about the crash, but only suffered a few scratches and a bruise on her right arm. "I felt better after the game [on Monday] and everyone's been really happy for me."
Jamestown 36Defenders in Name Only: Jamestown tried to defend its state title this season despite losing all five starters and the coach from last year's championship team.
Up Next:Riverbend, which has lost in the first round of the state tournament the past two seasons, faces AA Battlefield rival Courtland for the fifth time this season in the Region I final on Saturday. The Bears hold a 3-1 advantage in the season series.