St. Mary’s tops Lady Rebels by 2 in semifinals

Published 12:02 am Saturday, March 3, 2018

ALEXANDRIA — Only a few points from advancing to the championship round, the Riverside Academy Lady Rebels basketball team ended a momentous season with a heartbreaking 39-41 semifinal loss against St. Mary’s Academy.

The silver lining is that it’s been a historic playoff run for the girl’s program, which has never advanced past regional play.

Head coach Kevin Dizer, Bria Neal and Jennifer Legeaux walk beside elementary students lined up to wish the Lady Rebels good luck before they travel to Alexandria.

Head coach Kevin Dizer expected a challenge early Wednesday afternoon from St. Mary’s Academy, a well-coached team and evenly matched opponent.

Over the past couple of years, the two schools have fought wars typically decided by one or two points. On Feb. 1, Riverside Academy came out with a 42-41 win against the St. Mary’s Academy Cougars.

What started as a strong first half gave way to a stagnant latter part of the game with missed opportunities for made buckets, according to Dizer.

“We certainly didn’t play our best game,” Dizer said. “We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we have in the past. When you’re in a semifinal game, it’s hard to win without doing that really well.”

Junior Bria Neal led Riverside in scoring for the third consecutive playoff game, putting up 15 points against the Cougars.

Senior Dannie Nora, who was sidelined by an injury early in the season, returned for the semifinals and contributed 12 points.

Senior Briley Becker followed in scoring with eight points.

A second-year coach at Riverside Academy, Dizer was drawn to the girls program with a goal to bring it up to speed with the boys team and other powerhouse athletic squads.

He’s pleased with the progress, strength and spirit the girls have demonstrated on the court.

“I’m real proud of this team,” Dizer said.

“It’s unbelievable what they were able to accomplish with so much adversity this year.”

He said success came from players and coaches performing with a united front.

“I can only speak for the last two years, but I think the program is improving because the girls had a sense that their coaches believed in them,” Dizer said.