Ryan and Wichita Falls Rider were tied atop District 5-5A coming into Friday's showdown. Thanks to some hot shooting from Spencer Sanders and a huge momentum swing in the third quarter, Ryan has that top spot all to itself.
Sanders poured in 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and the Raiders improved to 4-0 in district for the first time since 2011 with a 52-41 win at Billy Ryan Gym.
Rider (19-4, 3-1 district) trailed by five with 3:59 left and was held to two points the rest of the way.
"Every district win is good," Ryan coach Bryce Overstreet said. "It's all about making progress every day. If we can continue doing that with the group we have, I know we'll have great results."
Ryan's defense played solid all night while holding Rider's top threat Ty Caswell to 13 points. And while the final four minutes ultimately sealed the win, a key for Ryan was that momentum swing in the third quarter.
The Raiders (15-3 overall) were only leading by five coming out of halftime but forced several steals that led to an 8-0 run to start the frame. Sanders had 10 points in each half and, with his team leading by 11, opened the fourth quarter with his third 3-pointer to extend the lead to 14.
That shot proved pivotal, as Caswell immediately answered with a trey of his own and sparked a 9-0 Rider rally. Sanders hit another 3-pointer with 3:02 left, and Rider only managed to score one more basket the rest of the way.
Tashawn Banks added eight points for Ryan and Kosi Eldridge chipped in seven. Tre Evans, who finished with six points, was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the closing seconds.
"Their record speaks for the talent they have," Overstreet said of Rider. "Plus, anytime Caswell is on the floor, anything can happen. But we came out in that third quarter with a lot of intensity and I was proud of the guys for anticipating passes and sharing the ball."
Ryan 50, Wichita Falls Rider 34
Tija Burns scored 12 points and Ryan relied on its stingy defense to hold Wichita Falls Rider to one point in the second quarter en route to a runaway win.
The Lady Raiders (11-14, 4-2) were coming off a five-point loss to Denison and trailed Rider by six midway through the opening frame. But Ryan would rattle off a stunning 25-3 run to take a 16-point lead into the break.
Burns was one of three to score in double figures for Ryan. Haley Rucker and Kayra Thompson each scored 10 points. Thompson added two 3-pointers, both during Ryan's big surge.
Rider (10-17, 1-5) scored 15 points in the fourth and got 10 points from A'Zharia Veasy. But as a team, Rider was held to seven points between the second and third quarters.
"You can't beat that," Ryan coach Monesha Allen said of the 25-3 run. "The theme with this team really is to take things one possession at a time. We knew Rider was tough and we had to come in here and take care of business."
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.
Ryan 52, Wichita Falls Rider 41
|Wichita Falls Rider||12||10||8||11||—||41|
Wichita Falls Rider (19-4, 3-1) — Ty Caswell 13, Ben Moffat 10, DJ Holloway 8, Nick Darcus 5, Maurice Reid 3, Jorge Vargas 2.
Ryan (15-3, 4-0) — Spencer Sanders 20, Tashawn Banks 8, Kosi Eldridge 7, Tre Evans 6, Jay Wilson 5, Gabe Douglas 4, DeAngelo Williams 2.
Ryan 50, Wichita Falls Rider 34
|Wichita Falls Rider||12||1||6||15||—||34|
Wichita Falls Rider (10-17, 1-5) — A'Zhariah Veasy 10, Memori Craig 6, Rylee Torres 6, Belanna McKenzie 3, Laeschelle Wright 3, Tori Williamson 2, Keyshawna Newman 2, Harlie Fenoglio 2.
Ryan (11-14, 4-2) — Tija Burns 12, Haley Rucker 10, Kayra Thompson 10, Kannessia Holbert 6, Megan Edwards 4, Jadan Mitchell 4, Aubrie Pitts 2, La'Nyia Woodard 2.