Thursday, March 1, 2012

West Memphis eliminated in girls state basketball tourney


The West Memphis girls basketball team had a tough time finding the hoop all day, but there they were in the final six minutes only three points down in their first state tournament game since 2010.

Trailing 36-33 with 6:53 to play in the contest, West Memphis allowed Springdale Har-Ber to reel off 17 straight points that paved the way for a 55-35 Har-Ber victory Wednesday in the first round of the Class 7A state tournament.

The Lady Devils (15-13) could only connect on 10 of 41 shots from the floor, including only 2 of 12 in the decisive fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Har-Ber (22-9) shook off frigid shooting numbers in the first three quarters to drain 7 of 9 from the field in the final eight minutes.

“We just couldn’t get it going on the offensive end all day,” said West Memphis coach Shelia Burns. “We had trouble getting the ball in the low post, and when that happens we’re in trouble for the most part.”

West Memphis’ leading scorer, 6-foot senior center Kiera Adams, hit for eight first-half points, but Har-Ber held her scoreless in the second half.

“We knew (Adams) was one of the top big girls in the state,” said Har-Ber head coach Sandy Wright. “She’s left-handed, so the first thing we wanted to do with her is force her to go right. Then we wanted to make sure she didn’t catch the ball too deep in the post.”

Adams sat five minutes of the second half after collecting her fourth foul with 2:54 to play in the third quarter. That’s when Burns sent in a smaller group off the bench for full-court pressure.

The move resulted in West Memphis trimming a 10-point Lady Wildcat lead to 36-33 early in the fourth quarter. Within striking distance, Burns sent her bigger, more experienced group back in.

“We got what we wanted out of our press group, and I’m thinking it’s time to send our bigs back in to finish them off,” Burns said. “They just weren’t up to the challenge.”

The Lady Devils couldn’t take advantage of Springdale’s cold shooting in the first half. Har-Ber hit on 5 of 18 shots from the floor in the first two quarters, but still led 25-22 at halftime. The Lady Wildcats stayed afloat, however, as senior point guard Jessica Olson hit 12 of her 14 points in the second quarter.

“She’s our little 5-3 mighty mite,” Wright said of Olson.

In the second half, Summer Morgan and Caylee Wright, the head coach’s daughter, scored nine of their 14 points.

West Memphis also got eight points from sophomore Keona Stinson.

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