River girls need win tonight to tie for Pioneer lead

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FINCASTLE – The James River girls will play host to Covington tonight in a key Pioneer District basketball game. The Knights can tie the Cougars for the Pioneer District lead with a win.

“If we win and also defeat Highland on Friday, that will force a play-off with the Cougars for the regular season championship,” said River coach Dan Bowser. “This is a big game for us. One of our goals at the begining of the season was to be district champions and now we have the opportunity to make that happen. We are looking forward to the challenge and hope that our fans will come out to support us.”

River comes into the game at 16-3 overall and 7-1 in the district, having lost only at Covington in Pioneer District play. Last week the Knights had little trouble with Craig County and Bath County as they beat both to set up the big game with Covington tonight.

The Knights beat Craig in Buchanan, 57-30. River was up 29-13 at the half and coasted to the win, with everyone on the team contributing.

“It was good to get everyone some playing time,” said Bowser. “Reanna Hamm got back into the lineup with a little playing time after being sidelined with an ankle sprain.”

Taylor England led River with 13 points and Morgan Hufford had 12 points, and six steals. Ashley King had nine points, Hamm had six, Ceira Webb had five and Cassandra Shaffer and Kaye Woods both had four points. Kaitlyn Barger and Libby Rhodes each had a bucket.

Last Friday at Bath the Knights won 45-30.

“We knew going in this would be a tough game,” said Bowser. “It was a close game until about halfway through the fourth quarter. We got several stops on defense and then converted from the foul line. We have been saying that sooner or later we would win a game at the foul line and that is what happened.”

The Knights were 13-for-16 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and 20-for-27 for the game. Hufford led River in scoring with 15 points and also had five steals and five assists. King had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Hamm just missed a double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds. England and Shaffer each had 4 points and Woods had three.

At 17-3 the Knights are now tied for sixth in the state poll of sportswriters and broadcasters among all Group A girls’ teams. Floyd County, at 19-1, is the top-ranked team in the state.