HAMILTON — For Hamilton High School senior CiCi Riggins, the moment was dulled by the outcome Thursday night.
Displaying a move she has utilized throughout a stellar four-year career, Riggins faked right, went left, drew the contact and finished at the rim, becoming the all-time leading scorer in HHS girls basketball history.
Riggins poured in a game-high 25 points, but the Big Blue had a three-game winning streak snapped, suffering a 62-51 defeat at the hands of Northwest at the Hamilton Freshman School.
“I was thinking free throws was going to get me there,” Riggins said. “I was surprised I got it that way. I am happy I got that, the all-time leading scorer tonight, but more important to me is winning.
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“That was a very hard loss, especially getting all those points, but then losing at the same time. That’s how I feel. I mean, I am still happy. I am really happy on the inside, but need to brush off this loss.”
Riggins now has 1,227 career points, surpassing 2013 graduate Jillian Spurlock’s 1,214. Riggins is only eight rebounds shy of the school record in that category as well, according to the HHS athletic department.
Riggins smiled when asked how much pressure she felt coming into the game.
“A lot … I mean, a lot,” Riggins said. “My face was kind of red during the game. My legs were shaking. I just tried to kind of get that out of my head and push through the game. You know I can’t think too much about that during the game.”
HHS coach Harry Phillips had nothing but praise for Riggins. Phillips has been an assistant coach for many Big Blue standouts, including Spurlock, but had special words as the head coach for Riggins.
“I mean, hey man, she is just like my daughter,” Phillips said. “She plays hard. Her heart is in the right place. I have had the pleasure to be with all these girls. I have had the pleasure of coaching her since she was a freshman. I wish I had 20 of them. “
While Riggins was the highlight, Northwest shared part of the final story by shooting lights out in the second half to snag the win.
The Knights jumped ahead 15-8 after one quarter and extended the margin to 32-25 at half before blitzing the Blue with an 11-of-15 shooting effort in the second half.
Sante Williams hit three triples on her way to 20 points, while Sierra Boyd (12 points, nine boards) and Britnie Grant (14 points, six rebounds) dominated inside as the Knights improved to 4-2.
“We moved the ball and we were able to get rhythm shots,” Northwest coach Anthony Johnson said. “(Williams) got hot early. They played off and she called their bluff. When we are knocking down shots, we are tough to defend.”
The third quarter was the key for the Knights as they extended the lead to 47-33 entering the final stanza despite a fracas at the end of the quarter that ended with two HHS players and one Northwest player ejected.
Phillips said the Blue continued to struggle for extended minutes on offense, compiling 18 turnovers, and now HHS (4-4) will be short for a couple of games due to the ejections.
“They shot the ball well,” Phillips said. “We had 18 turnovers against them. They had 18, but we didn’t transition our 18 turnovers from them into points. I thought that was the biggest thing that stuck out to me.
“We can’t continue to have slow starts. Our grit is there, but we have these areas of time in the game where we have possessions and not score. We have to deal with adversity. We have to deal with Harrison (next), and we just gave them a shot in the arm knowing we have some players out. But you know, these are my girls. We have to figure it out. We will be all right.”
Riggins said the Blue will continue to fight, with a goal of changing the mind-set of HHS hoops.
“We are just tired of it,” Riggins said. “We haven’t had a good season since my freshman year. We want to push back. We have this status as Hamilton that we are not that good. I just want to prove them wrong. “
On Saturday afternoon, Big Blue will host Harrison at the freshman building, while Northwest travels to Mount Healthy.
NORTHWEST (4-2): Samantha Cain 2 1 7; Sante Williams 7 3 20; Anye’ Shabazz 1 0 3; Sierra Boyd 5 2 12; Aliyah Casson 2 0 4; Britnie Grant 6 2 14; Antaniqua Bell 1 0 2. Totals: 24-8-62
HAMILTON (4-4): Anna Cardwell 2 1 6; Leah Smith 4 0 8; Miracle Riggins 1 0 2; CiCi Riggins 9 6 25; Kira Ash 3 0 8; Samantha Fuller 0 2 2. Totals: 19-9-51
3-pointers: N 6 (Williams 3, Cain 2, Shabazz), H 4 (Ash 2, Riggins, Cardwell)