BRIDGEPORT — When Emily Riggs converted a conventional 3-point play with 5:14 remaining in Friday’s game against Preston High, it gave the Bridgeport senior 31 points and the Indians a 27-point lead in the contest.
Riggs was then removed from the game for good, and at the time, she had scored only two fewer points than the entire Knights team. Riggs finished with 31 points on 10 of 18 shooting and her effort was key in leading Bridgeport to a convincing 75-38 victory over Preston at the BHS gymnasium.
“She’s just so smart. She does things that other kids don’t see or understand,” Bridgeport coach Dennis Hutson said. “If somebody is overplaying her one way, she’s going to make a cut the other direction and get herself open. She understands the game.
“If I could put Emily’s brain into the rest of our players, it’d be unbelievable. She just understands the game so well and takes advantage of whatever the defense is trying to do to her.”
A pair of early 3-pointers from Riggs paced Bridgeport (6-4) to an 8-2 lead 2:45 into the contest, and the aggressive forward didn’t stop there, totaling 15 first-quarter points to allow the Tribe to build a 21-9 lead.
The Knights (7-2) fared better in the second quarter, outscoring the Indians 10-7 over the final 4:22 of the first half to win the frame and enter halftime facing a 33-22 deficit.
While Preston was still plenty within reach at halftime, Knights coach Brian Miller thought the deficit should have been single digits, but his team made only 9 of 25 field goals and allowed Riggs to match its point total.
“What killed us in the first half was we broke the press four times and had a layup and missed. It’s 33-22 and that’s eight points,” Miller said. “That changes everything.”
The Indians forced six Preston turnovers in the third quarter and Riggs scored six points in the period on three baskets from close range, allowing the Tribe to open up a 47-31 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“If we put a bigger, stronger girl on her, she’s going to bring her outside and cause some problems,” Miller said. “If we put a guard on her, then she’s going to muscle her way inside.”
Preston committed eight more turnovers in the fourth, and when Riggs finished off her scoring for the night, the lead had grown to 60-33.
In addition to her offensive output, Riggs led all players with eight rebounds and added four assists. Freshman guard Hannah Bartlett came off the bench to contribute 10 points and seven boards.
“She continues to mature for us off the bench and had another nice game,” Hutson said. “It’s her second game scoring double figures in a row.”
Lauren Riffle added nine points in the win, while Rory Marple finished with eight points and six boards. The Indians also shared the ball exceptionally well, registering 19 assists to only 10 turnovers.
Preston freshman Carsynn Sines led the Knights with 13 points in defeat, though no teammate scored more than six.
Michelle Thomas contributed eight rebounds in the loss, while Tori Garlits had five assists.
With their first loss since the season opener against Buckhannon-Upshur, the Knights had their seven-game win streak snapped.
“Offensively, we were really patient and did what we needed to do in the halfcourt set,” Hutson said. “We were very unselfish in transition and we got some easy baskets which was a real positive for us. It was a great win against a team that had come in here having won seven in a row.”