SCRANTON – Rebecca Mekilo had taken 10 shots Friday night – and missed 10 times.
With Riverside trailing Meyers, 38-32, as the midway point in the fourth quarter approached, Mekilo made one more daring move.
Taylor Berto's steal took away a possible fourth Meyers shot on the same possession. Berto's pass sent Mekilo up the right side in a hurry.
A strong drive resulted in Mekilo not only breaking her scoring drought, but also drawing a foul for the three-point play that sparked a 12-1 run that allowed the Lady Vikes to finally overcome the Mohawks.
The only Meyers basket in the final four minutes was a harmless score at the buzzer to make the final margin, 44-41, in Riverside's favor.
"We got some steals and easy baskets and we got plays down the stretch from girls who have been making the plays all year," Riverside coach Jack Mekilo said.
Kellie Nash was one of those players, dropping nine of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Mekilo was another.
Her offensive struggles were part of the reason Riverside trailed by as 12 at halftime. Her defensive effort was a big part of the reason the Lady Vikes were able to remain close until the shots started falling.
Berto and Madison Haduck took care of the scoring in the first half of the comeback, each hitting two 3-pointers during the third quarter, cutting six points off Riverside's deficit.
At the same time, Mekilo was making five of her nine steals.
Playing the game of a coach's daughter, Mekilo anticipated her opponents' moves to jump into passing lanes and got on the floor after loose balls.
"I knew I wasn't playing too well on offense," Mekilo said. "That really made me step it up on defense."
Then, after being scoreless for nearly 28 minutes, she produced all six of her points in the final 4:10.
"I was off in the first quarter," Mekilo said. "I knew my team was going to come back to me.
"They had faith in me, so I had faith in myself."
After Nash cut through the lane and scored for a 39-38 lead, Mekilo added to it by hitting one of two free throws with 2:46 left.
Meyers used a free throw to get back within one, but Mekilo and Nash each converted both ends of one-and-ones in the final 53 seconds.
It was not easy, but Nash and Mekilo made sure the Lady Vikes made it through the first round of the Class AA field, which figures to be the highlight of both the District 2 boys' and girls' tournaments.
Because of its superior depth, the starting field in Class AAA girls had a slightly better cumulative win-loss record than the Class AA group.
The Class AA bracket, however, features an intriguing combination of Lackawanna League teams in the semifinals after a quarterfinal round that produced three games decided by a total of 10 points.
Montrose and Riverside, which meet Tuesday, are the only two teams to have beaten six-time defending champion Dunmore this season. The Lady Bucks face Mid Valley, who has been pursuing Dunmore for four years, in a rematch of the state semifinal that Dunmore won last year.
Like Riverside, Mid Valley faced a double-figures deficit at the half, but the Spartanettes managed to knock off the top Class AA team from the Wyoming Valley Conference.
The Class AA boys' bracket has by far the best combined record among its teams with seven winning squads, including four 20-win teams. Two of those 20-win teams had to go head-to-head Saturday, making the GAR-Riverside loser one of the top teams in the state in any class to be eliminated at this stage.
The teams that can survive these two tournaments are also those most likely to make noise for District 2 on the state level.