Lady Cardinals advance to second round of tourney

LITTLE ROCK – The Harmony Grove Lady Cardinals came into Tuesday night’s opening round of the 5-3A South District Tournament in control of their own fate. There was only one problem standing in their way and that was the Lady Eagles from Cutter Morning Star, a team Harmony Grove narrowly escaped with a win on the road just a few days ago.

After starting the game off very slow, the Lady Cardinals broke free and finally finished off a very scrappy Lady Eagles team to win 48-34. With the win, the Lady Cardinals move on to play Arkansas Baptist tonight with a 3A Regional Tournament bid on the line.

The Lady Cardinals missed their first four shots, including two 3-pointers, before finally getting on the board thanks to a jumper from senior Morgan Ramsey to take an early 2-2 lead.

But the lead wouldn’t last long as Cutter drove the length of the floor to tie the game at 2-2 early in the first quarter. Cutter pulled out to a 6-2 lead before Ramsey added another bucket to cut the score to 6-4, advantage Cutter. After the Lady Eagles put Harmony Grove into an early 10-4 hole, the Lady Cardinals missed seven straight shots before Ramsey hit Harmony Grove’s final attempt of the quarter, cutting the deficit to 10-6 at the end of one.

The Lady Cardinals turned things around in the second, using a 7-0 run to start the quarter . Junior Lauren Dempsey started the scoring in the second, hitting a jumper to pull her team to within two at 10-8. Junior Molly White used a good move to get to the basket and drew the foul, sending her to the line to shoot two foul shots. She hit them both to tie the game at 10-10. Moments later, junior Laura Britt hit a layup, drawing the foul. She hit her foul shot to give her team a 13-10 second-quarter lead.

The advantage didn’t last long as Cutter hit a big 3-pointer to tie the game at 13-13. Senior Haley Barnett stole the lead back for Harmony Grove at 16-13 thanks to a big 3-pointer of her own.

A jumper from White and a huge 3-pointer from Ramsey gave the Lady Cardinals a 21-15 advantage midway through the second quarter.

Then the shooting drought found it’s way into the Lady Cardinals’ life once again as they missed eight of their last nine shots to take a halftime lead of 23-15.

Both teams traded buckets early in the third quarter but Cutter began to heat up. They pulled the score to within five at 25-20 advantage Harmony Grove just minutes into the quarter.

But Harmony Grove wouldn’t falter as they pulled the score out to a 10-point lead at 31-21 moments later.

With under two minutes left in the third quarter, the Lady Cardinals added three more points to take a 10-point, 34-24 lead into the final quarter.

From there, the Lady Cardinals never gave up and never relinquished the lead as they cruised past Cutter to move on into the second round of the tournament. The Lady Cardinals won by a final of 48-34.

Ramsey led the Lady Cardinals with 21 points including a single 3-pointer and 4 of 4 from the foul line. Her performance left head coach John White smiling after the game.

“That might have been her best game all year,” White said. “Morgan played really well and led us in scoring. She showed up and really played well on the defensive end. She did a lot of good things for us tonight.”

As for the overall play of his team, White was very pleased as he watched his girls move deeper into the tournament.

The Lady Cardinals made 10 of 13 from the foul line in the win over Cutter.

“When you get free throws you really want to make them,” White said. “When you knock them down it really helps.”

The Lady Cardinals also played very well attacking the boards, outrebounding the Lady Eagles 33 to 23 in the win.

“I knew we outrebounded them in the first half and I thought that was the difference in the ball game,” White said. “We were struggling to score early, but we kept getting chances and kept getting chances and we finally saw the ball go in a few times.”

With the win, the Lady Cardinals will face a tough Arkansas Baptist team that has already beaten them twice this season.

“I think we definitely believe that we can beat them,” White said. “They beat us twice, but we played them really tough at our place and tough for a half at theirs. I think that we really believe that we can win and we have played very good the past few ball games and we will see what happens.”

The Lady Cardinals will take to the floor at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Episcopal for the second round of the district tournament.