Rome’s road to Macon has come to an end.
Allie Sweet scored 21 points and the River Ridge Lady Knights eliminated the Rome Lady Wolves 55-42 in the Sweet 16 round of the Georgia High School Association basketball tournament at River Ridge High School.
Rome’s final record for the 2020-21 campaign is 22-8.
“They won the battle on the boards,” Lady Wolves head coach Jason Harris said. “We just got out rebounded and gave up too many second-chance points.”
Rome kept pace with River Ridge through one half, as the Lady Knights took a slim 21-18 edge at the end of the first half.
However, Sweet’s presence inside the paint on both ends proved to be the difference maker Friday in Woodstock, as the freshman pulled down critical rebounds and made several put backs.
At 34-31, the Sweet 16 matchup had the makings for a close finish, but River Ridge, riding the home crowd’s fervent support, pulled away in the final frame, outscoring Rome 21-11.
Juniors Pinky Nation and NiNi Adams each posted nine points to lead Rome. Junior Taleyiah Chatman recorded eight points, while senior DeKerriya Daniel had seven.
For Harris, in his fourth season at the helm of the program, this is his first full senior class. He spoke highly of his seniors he’s had since ninth grade and their leadership.
“You can’t underestimate the leadership our three seniors brought us this year,” Harris said. “It was an unbelievable run for us. You see them grow from ninth graders all the way up to seniors seeing the maturity that they have. It’s an unbelievable feeling because we teach more than just basketball. It’s life lessons, so when you can see them grow and mature into young women, that’s what it’s all about.”
Harris said, when looking back on 2020-21, he’ll remember the team’s hard-working attitude.
“I’ve never questioned this team’s motive and ... dedication to this team to want to win,” Harris said. “They’ve always come to work, put the hard hat on and went to work every day so that can’t be taken away from them.”
In looking ahead, Harris expressed encouragement in the core that will be returning.
“I’ll return three of my five starters of which we’ll have nine seniors next year,” Harris said. “(I’m) looking forward to a senior-laden team that hopefully will be seasoned enough to make a run.”