By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
No matter the situation, no matter how bad the game may be going, Riverside senior guard Megan Carabotta has had a knack for knocking down a shot when the Beavers need points.
Oops! She did it again.
Carabotta found nothing but net with less than a minute and a half to play to seal Riverside’s 58-53 season-opening victory over Glenville in the Harvey Tipoff Tournament on Friday afternoon.
“Megan’s done that for us for three years,” Riverside coach Brindi Kandel said. “If we need a big shot, it doesn’t matter how bad she’s shooting, she makes it and she does it consistently.
“Her coming out in the first game and doing it just reaffirms that she has the touch. That will be big for us from a confidence standpoint.”
The Beavers (1-0) will play Harvey, a 48-24 winner in the tournament’s other game, today at 2 p.m. for the championship. Glenville will play the Dragons today at noon in the consolation game.
Riverside led, 48-34, at the end of the third, but a 19-4 Glenville run that spanned nearly four minutes of the final period, had the Tarblooders (0-1) within one with less than three minutes remaining.
Keesha Henderson — who scored nine of her 17 points during the run — scored on a feed from Latrice Legion to cut the Tarblooders’ deficit to 54-53 with 2:56 to play.
“They’re vicious,” Wright said. “That’s our two-man game. When we started, they weren’t focused. They weren’t together.
“We live on our defense and the intensity wasn’t there in the first half. It’s the beginning of the season. We’ll get the wrinkles out.”
Legion netted a game-high 26 points and added eight rebounds and five steals. Henderson had six assists and four steals.
Alexis Parsons scored on a free throw and Carabotta drilled a trey from the wing with 1:28 to give Riverside the win.
“It was just in the flow of the game,” Carabotta said. “I was just open. Kortlyn gave me a good pass and I just took it.
“Yeah (I was looking for a chance to make a splash). I was looking at the scoreboard (prior to making the shot). I always look to shoot.”
“That shot (by Carabotta) was huge,” Kandel said. “That let the air out of them a little bit. 3-pointers kill momentum. (Glenville’s) a good team. They’re well-coached. That 3-pointer took momentum and shifted it back over to our side.”
Carabotta, Parsons and Katie Klingman each netted 15 points and Kortlyn Carr added 11 for the Beavers.
“That’s huge,” Kandel said. “That will be one of the things we have to utilize this year. We have six seniors and each one of them is a threat in her own way.”
Parsons led the Beavers with seven assists and five steals, Carr had seven rebounds and five assists and Klingman added 14 boards and three blocks.
“One of our focuses this year is to crash the boards,” Kandel said. “Katie gets off her feet quick. That’s going to be great if she can continue to do that. It will eliminate second-chance points. She takes care of the boards. She’s done that for us for three years.”
After falling behind, 5-1, in the opening minutes, Riverside used an 18-5 spurt to take a 20-10 lead midway through the second quarter.
“We were jet lagging out there,” Wright said. “That was my biggest worry coming off a holiday and coming in to play the next day. We picked it up at the end of the third and the top of the fourth. If we started the game like that, the game could have gone the other way.
“Riverside played well. They had great ball movement. We have to work on defending the pick and roll.”
The Beavers led, 28-17, at the break as Riverside took advantage of Henderson sitting on the bench in foul trouble for the majority of the first 16 minutes.
“With Keesha being out early, we had to rely on her backup and she just isn’t ready yet,” Wright said. “They took us out of the box early and that’s when they took the big lead on us.”
Legion scored seven points in the first three minutes of the second half as the Tarblooders cut the Riverside lead to six, 34-28, with 4:59 to go in the third period.
After Carr scored, fed Parsons for another bucket and Parsons made a steal and the subsequent layup, Riverside led by 16, 46-30, with just more than two minutes to play in the period.
“(Carr and Parsons taking control) is vital,” Kandel said. “I told (the seniors) as a group, this team was theirs, but specifically I said it to those two. Their job is to control the tempo, make reads and find the open person. They attacked when they needed to and pulled up for jumpers when they needed to.
“I’m proud of them. Both are great leaders and they have been for a couple years now.”
Klingman scored off an assist from Carabotta to open the fourth before Glenville made its charge.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.