MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was state tournament or bust this year for the Riverdale High School girls basketball team after the Lady Warriors and Smyrna High made national headlines for trying to throw a game last season.
That controversy is all behind Riverdale, and the team is now focused on winning a state championship.
From day one, the goal for the Lady Warriors was to get to the big house.
“All good programs in the state, that’s what their ultimate prize is; their ultimate goal is to get to the glass house at the end and be playing your best basketball at the end,” said Riverdale first-year head coach Randy Coffman.
However, the team didn’t get that chance last year. Instead, Riverdale and Smyrna were forced to watch the state tournament from the stands.
TSSAA officials disqualified both of the teams when it appeared they attempted to lose the District 7 AAA consolation game on purpose.
The teams were hoping to avoid playing top-ranked, powerhouse Blackman High School, which went on to win the State Championship.
“At the beginning of the year, we were all talking about how it was us against everybody else and how, like, were just playing each game like our goal was the state tournament,” Riverdale player Amanda Whittington said.
The team wasn’t going to settle for anything less.
“It did motivate us [be]cause we knew that we should have, like, played in the state last year,” Miss Basketball finalist and Riverdale standout Anastasia Hayes said.
Hayes also said the team had a point to prove this year.
“We got in the gym, we worked hard, we suffered together, and we came [together] more as a team,” Hayes explained. “That really did motivate us to get here.”
The Lady Warriors got here with a lot of young players who have never played in a state tournament game, but you couldn’t tell as they went on to beat Morristown West 70 to 55 Wednesday to advance to the semi-finals.
“The first thing I noticed about this group as I took the job was they’re driven and they’re focused to prove to people what Riverdale stood for,” Coffman added.
Riverdale will try to get to the state tournament finals, but they will have to get past Memphis Central Friday morning at 11:30 a.m.