Girls Basketball: Rivers Holds Court to Win 9th Straight Holiday Title

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Girls Basketball: Rivers Holds Court to Win 9th Straight Holiday Title
Rivers Captures their 9th Straight Holiday Tournament Title

By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars

WESTON, Mass – Perhaps you can expect a team of young basketball players to come out cold on a snowy afternoon in New England.

The Rivers School Girls varsity team seemed completely flat during the first half of the final game of the school’s annual Holiday Tournament. Visiting Northfield Mt. Hermon controlled the action, played with more energy, and earned a comfortable 26-14 lead going into the break, but there is a reason that they play two halves.

Rivers came out strong with a 12-4 run to trim that deficit in the third quarter, and eventually pulled ahead in the final minutes to stun NMH with a 50-47 victory, taking home the championship trophy at the Rivers Holiday Tournament for the ninth consecutive year.

“It’s really important to us,” Rivers head coach Bob Pipe said about winning this annual tournament. “We want to win championships and this is the first opportunity to do that every year. It’s really important to set the tone with a win before the New Year.”

After committing 14 turnovers during the first half, Rivers committed only four while forcing 11 turnovers from NMH during the second half. They turned that defense into offense, as junior guard Tess Sussman led the way with 14 points to give her team its first lead at 43-42.

In the first half, only sophomore center Maren Durant (8 points, 7 rebounds, 8 blocks) and senior Fiona Finn (20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals) scored for Rivers, but Sussman and others came alive to spark the comeback.

“Our team is built around speed and energy and we didn’t have much in the first half. In the second half we brought the energy defensively and we got steals and lay-ups as a result,” said Pipe.

He continued, “[Sussman] had two quick fouls in the first half so I sat her down, but I knew if she could come out strong in the second half we’d have a chance. It all starts with Tess [Sussman] when you talk about our energy, and once she gets going, she leads us.”

NMH managed to hold off the Rivers run thanks to stellar play from Silke Milliman (24 points, 12 rebounds) amongst others, but turned the ball over on consecutive possessions while Finn knocked down four consecutive free throws to put Rivers up 47-43.

From there, the home team was able to hold on for yet another tournament victory.

 

Stars Who Shined

The Rivers School

Fiona FInn‘19 G – One of several talented underclassmen on the Rivers roster, Finn came up with a couple of key steals in the second half and got to the free throw consistently.

She wound up going 10-for-10 from the charity stripe and sealed the victory with a calm hand. While that might seem routine, Finn suffered a minor dislocation to one of her fingers during the first round of the tournament last Thursday, and her coach praised her toughness for not only getting back into that game, but finishing the tournament with a great performance in the finals.

Tess Sussman ‘18 G – The Needham native was quiet during the first half, but came alive with a few aggressive drives to the basket and a key three-pointer during Rivers’ comeback. As a result of her solid overall play, the junior was named to the all-tournament team.

Maren Durant‘19 C – Durant made it very difficult for NMH to find any offense with her 6-foot-4 frame. The sophomore may still be growing and Rivers is happy to help her develop on both ends of the floor.

“Defensively [Durant] is a menace,” said Pipe, “She makes it very difficult and she blocks a lot of shots. When she gets rebounds and gets us out in transition that’s when we can get good looks. Offensively, she’s still coming into her own, but she finishes really well around the hoop, so she’s of huge importance to us.”

 

Northfield Mt. Hermon

Allie Lopes ‘18 G – When Rivers made its run, NMH depended on a steady presence at point guard to keep the game from turning completely. Lopes (9 points, 2 assists) kept the team calm and generally got good shots for NMH, but her efforts were not quite enough.

Silke Milliman‘19 F – Another promising prospect in the class of 2019, Milliman kept NMH in the game with excellent shooting and relentless pursuit of the basketball, as he secured six of her 12 rebounds on the offensive end.

Her third three-pointer kept NMH up 37-33 late in the second half, but eventually Rivers overcame that deficit on its way to a hard-fought win.


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