THREE OAKS — The Jan. 18 “Stampeding Against Cancer” girls basketball game between host River Valley and New Buffalo was close — until the host Mustangs broke away with a 28-point third quarter.
The scoring surge, fueled by six three-point baskets, helped RV prevail 63-47.
The Mustangs trailed 23-21 at half-time, and the game stayed close — until the score was knotted at 30-all.
River Valley finished the third quarter on a 22-7 run that began with consecutive three-pointers by Tiffany Hyatt and an Emma Springer basket to go up 35-27.
Following a Haizea Ruiz score, the Mustangs knocked down three more three-pointers (another from Hyatt and long-range buckets by Hailey Hauch and Taylor Volstorf). Ruiz provided an exclamation point by sinking a half-court shot to beat the buzzer.
The home team went into the fourth stanza ahead 49-34, and the lead never fell below double digits the rest of the way.
“Once they started dropping it was game over from there,” Hyatt said of the team’s three-point shooting streak.
“He (coach Jason Alexander) said to shoot it and I shot it,” Hauch, a sophomore, said of her first varsity three-pointer.
Hyatt led the Mustangs with 18 points, Ruiz scored 14, Volstorf tallied 11 points and Emma Springer finished with 8.
Nadia Collins finished with 12 points while Abby Vitale and Olivia Haskins each scored 10 points for the Bison.
Alexander said the River Valley players have been working hard at getting fundamentally sound and are gaining confidence in their ability to shoot the basketball.
“Tonight it paid off,” he added.
Vitale had six of the Bison’s 13 first-quarter points while Haskins hit a “3.”
Hyatt opened the scoring for River Valley with a three-pointer and went on to make two more in the opening frame, which ended with the score tied at 13-13.
Second-quarter baskets by Alilyn Purcell, Mary Mayer, and Nadia Collins helped New Buffalo build a 23-17 lead. The Mustangs pulled within a pair (23-21) before half-time thanks to a hoop by Hauch and two Jessie Rieth free throws.
After River Valley’s big third quarter the teams battled to a near draw over the final eight minutes (RV out-scored the Bison 14-13 in the fourth frame). Haskins hit a “3” for New Buffalo while Volstorf connected from three-point land for the Mustangs.
“We just decided to start playing like we knew how to play together instead of just playing for ourselves,” Volstorf said.