Mikayla Via’s two technical free throws prior to the start of play were a prelude to an unusual but tight game between Via’s Riverbend Bears girls basketball team and visiting Courtland Friday night.

The Bears managed to convert 16-of-35 free throws and committed a season-low 13 turnovers en route to a 45–38 victory over the Cougars. Courtland eventually tied the game at 31–31 on Alana Tilden’s basket midway through the third quarter but could not overcome its five-point fourth quarter.

“We had a lot of mental mistakes, myself starting the game with a technical foul [for] not putting one of our players in the book,” said Courtland coach Gene Flamm. “As much as we were down and to come back, I thought it showed a lot of heart for the girls, especially because we are so young.”

The Cougars returned only three players from last year’s team.

Jasmin Williams led the winners with 14 points. Via added 11 points and Maddy Slunt finished with nine. Senior Olivia Hupp made her presence felt with four assists, a pair of steals and two rebounds.

“Coach [Wayne Via] said stop making turnovers and just play our game,” Williams said afterward. “The flow is really good now that we’re smaller. Defenders can’t catch up to us when we run the fast break.”

Riverbend appears to be rounding into shape while winning two of its last three games. The only setback during this time was a one-point, last-second loss to Hylton.

“We have to concentrate on what we do well and try to build together to be more consistent,’’ coach Via said. “If we can focus on ball security and running our own stuff, I’m happy with what we can do.’’

Kelsey Jones and Zoye Williams sparked Courtland’s attack and the Cougars received strong play off the bench from freshman guard Deziree Johnson.

Via knew beforehand what to expect from Jones, who he coached in AAU basketball. The senior finished with a team-high 14 points to go along with six rebounds and three blocked shots.

“We need to play four quarters together and we started slow,” Flamm surmised. “The third quarter showed what they are capable of.”

Riverbend visits Mountain View Tuesday prior to playing in the four-team Eastern View tournament on Dec. 28–29.

Courtland has a makeup game at Colonial Beach on Monday, then entertains Massaponax on Wednesday.

Courtland512166   —   38
Riverbend      13   11   10   11   —      45

Courtland (3-3): Zoye Williams 10, Kelsey Jones 14, Sidney Hayden 0, Alana Tilden 6, Noelle Hodges 2, Deziree Johnson 4, Olivia Haynes 2. Totals: 13 11-21 38.

Riverbend (2-4): Olivia Hupp 3, Mikayla Via 11, Jasmin Williams 14, Madison Sarver 1, Maddy Slunt 9, Tianna Smith 3, Jedaiah Brown 1, Mary Lee Helbling 0, Caitlin Tomlinson 3. Totals: 13 16-35 45.

3-pointers: Courtland 1 (Williams). Riverbend 3 (Williams 2, Via).

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