Leader of the pack: Big Blue’s Riggins tops GMC in scoring

CiCi Riggins needed just two Hamilton girls basketball varsity games to log her first career double-double, giving notice to the Big Blue and the Greater Miami Conference of coming attractions.

Seven games into her junior season, the 5-foot-10 Riggins has lived up to the promise. The Hamilton forward leads the GMC with an average of 20.5 points per game – more than five points per game ahead of Mason’s Sammie Puisis – and ranks second with an average of 8.5 rebounds per game.

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According to Big Blue girls’ basketball record-keeper Larry Wood, Riggins ranks 11th on the program’s career scoring list is on pace to smash the career scoring record of 1,214 points set by Jillian Spurlock before she graduated in 2013.

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Besides being on pace to finish with close to 1,300 points, based on her career average going into the week, she also seemed to destined to finish with more than 700 rebounds – which would surpass the 646 collected by Michelle Davis in three seasons from 1983-1984 through 1985-1986.

Riggins, whose brother A’Shon plays college football at Indiana, isn’t really surprised by her success.

“I kind of expected it,” she said earlier this week. The Big Blue, 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the GMC going into the week, plays at Northwest on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

“What makes CiCi so effective is she’s just a regular blue-collar worker,” said Harry Phillips, who’s in his second season as Hamilton’s varsity head coach and previously was an assistant. “She’s starting to evolve her game out a little bit more – shooting (3-pointers) – but she’s still got a lot of stuff coming off dribble-drives. That’s her game, and we give her the green light. We only have one or two plays set up for her.”

Fairfield's Adriannah Williams tries to defend a shot by Hamilton's Cici Riggins during their game Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Hamilton High School in Hamilton. Fairfield won 65-49. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Riggins tied Spurlock’s single-game scoring record when she poured in 37 points in Hamilton’s 59-49 GMC win at Oak Hills on Dec. 6 – without making a 3-pointer. She sank 13-of-17 free throws and was shooting 74.6 percent from the line going into the week, an improvement over the 66.4 percentage she shot last season.

“She has developed a little bit of a 3-point shot, and we’re giving her the green light there, too, but she’s on such a cutting format that she doesn’t take the time to stop and shoot 3s,” Phillips said.

CiCi, whose real first name is Concierge and has two brothers and three sisters, started playing basketball in the seventh grade with her brother. Two years later, she was logging significant minutes and making three starts on varsity as a freshman.

“I remember the first time I was out there, I was nervous at first, but I found that I had a chemistry with the team that I didn’t know I’d have,” recalled Riggins, who also competes as a sprinter for the Hamilton track team.

Phillips, believing that Riggins is destined to play guard in college, is hoping to further develop her outside game.

“From time to time, we’re putting her outside and exposing her on the point,” he said. “She’s learning how to orchestrate what the offense is supposed to look like through her eyes. We’re pushing her toward that way. We’re slowly developing her to play looking at the basket.”

Lakota West’s Sarah Jones (left) and Hamilton’s Cici Riggins battle for a loose ball during the inaugural All-Butler County All-Star girls basketball game at the Hamilton Athletic Center on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD (Staff Writer)

Riggins, whose acquaintance with former Princeton High School star and current Ohio State All-American Kelsey Mitchell helps fuel her interest in the Buckeyes, welcomes the challenge.

“When I first started, I was a ‘4’ (power forward) or ‘5’ – a post player,” she said. “Now I’m working on the ‘1’ (point guard), ‘2’ (shooting guard) and ‘3’ (small forward). I’m handling the ball more.

“It’s good to be a tall guard.”

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