Bauxite boys, girls fall to state powers

The Bauxite Lady Miners faced a tall task traveling to Little Rock on Tuesday to face the Pulaski Academy Lady Bruins, which are ranked No. 2 in Class 4A. The Lady Miners were down by 17 points at one point, but got within three points in the fourth quarter, losing 53-45 in 7-4A conference action.

“Great effort, great heart, and [we] played hard – not quite big enough,” Bauxite Coach Josh Harrison said of the Lady Miners’ size compared to PA.

Six-foot, one-inch PA post player India Wilson scored 13 points, many of them coming when her teammates just passed over the Bauxite defense for easy layups.

“We just weren’t helping side enough,” Harrison said. “A lot of that is youth – getting a little too far off. We can’t just let her catch it and make moves. We have to try to front her.”

Though the Lady Miners (13-7, 5-2 7-4A) outrebounded the Lady Bruins 23-22, Bauxite’s 20 turnovers ended up being its downfall as PA only committed nine.

“I give half of that to youth, but the other half, we have to step up and be stronger,” Harrison said of the turnovers. “We’ve worked against the 1-2-2 [defense], we’ve been messing with that extended 1-2-2, but we’re just not stepping to the ball.

“We have to do a better job with being strong with it and I think we’re taking a little bit too much time. We have to get in that rhythm of step, be strong, turn and make strong passes, and we were a little lackadaisical in it.”

PA’s Breanna Harris hit a 3-pointer to start the game, but senior Alaina Crouse responded with a 3-pointer of her own to tie it at 3-3 with 6:49 left in the opening quarter. The Lady Bruins (16-3, 6-0 7-4A) would go up 10-5 after a Wilson offensive rebound and put back, but the Lady Miners fought back.

Junior Mary Crow hit two 3-pointers in a row to put Bauxite up 11-10 at the 4:20 mark, but PA went on a 10-3 run to close out the quarter, leading 20-14 going into the second.

The second quarter didn’t start well for the Lady Miners as the Lady Bruins began it with an 11-0 run to get up 31-14 with 1:58 left in the half. Bauxite didn’t score in the second quarter until Crow hit 1 of 2 free throws at the 1:41 mark. Crow scored Bauxite’s last seven points of the quarter to get the Lady Miners within 33-20 at the half.

The two teams traded buckets in the third quarter with PA taking a 14-12 advantage in the third to go up 47-32 going into the fourth.

Junior Makayla Blanchett made a layup assisted by Crow to start the fourth quarter as the Lady Miners would go on a 13-0 run, which began with 56 seconds left in the third quarter, and capped it when Crow hit a 3-pointer assisted by sophomore Ashley Eisenhauer to get Bauxite within 47-43 with 3:54 left in the game.

Crow made a layup at the 3:06 mark to make it 48-45 PA, but the Lady Bruins got an offensive rebound and put back from Wilson to make it 50-45 PA with 2:45 remaining. PA held on picking up a steal and layup from Mackie Kuhn to help seal it for the Lady Bruins.

“I thought they doubted themselves quite a bit early and coming into [the game],” Harrison said of his team. “I think they figured out second half that they can play with anybody they want if they put their minds to it.

“Just got to get a few more shots, a few more rebounds and some more defensive stops and the ball game is flipped the other way and we win by six or seven.”

Crow scored 24 points on 8 of 16 from the field and 4 of 8 from the 3-point line. She added four assists and two rebounds and is now five points away from breaking the Lady Miners’ all-time scoring record.
“Hopefully that will be at home,” Harrison said. “We’ll see how that goes Friday night [against Ashdown].”

Crouse scored eight points, hitting 2 of 4 from the 3-point arc, and grabbed nine rebounds with two blocks, and Blanchett had six points and four rebounds. For the Lady Bruins, Harris had 16 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists.

“I was proud of them,” Harrison said of the Lady Miners. “I thought they played really hard.”

Like the Lady Miners, the Bauxite Miners had their hands full with the No. 1 Class 4A team in the state losing 49-33 to the Pulaski Academy Bruins on Tuesday in Little Rock at Alex Hugg Gymnasium in 7-4A action.

“They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason,” Bauxite Coach Mark Smith said. “ But, I tell you what, our guys competed. A couple of made open shots that we missed and a few less offensive rebounds for them and it’s touch and go all the way down to the end.”

Sophomore Hunter Holder hit a 3-pointer to get the scoring started and put the Miners (11-7, 4-3 7-4A) up 3-0 early in the game. After 6-6 post player Hunter Henry grabbed an offensive rebound and put back for the Bruins, Holder hit a 17-foot jumper to put Bauxite up 5-4 with 4:24 left in the first. Henry took over after that as he scored eight consecutive points, including two 3-pointers to start a 10-0 PA run capped by Marcus Wallace’s layup at the 5:38 mark of the second quarter putting the Bruins up 14-5.

Holder hit another 3-pointer to help Bauxite outscore PA 6-4 the rest of the half to trail 18-11 at halftime.

“I thought our guys competed well,” Smith said. “I’m very proud of them. We handled [PA’s] pressure well. I thought we played really well as a team. We moved the ball around. It’s hard to score against them. They’re a lot bigger than we are.

“There’s such a fine line between being able to grab offensive rebounds and being able to have second shots and not being able to. We were getting one look and that was it.”

Junior guard Chris Revas opened the second half with a 3-pointer to get Bauxite within 18-14, but the Bruins went on a 6-0 run capped by Brandon Brady’s 3-pointer to put PA up 24-14 with 5:00 left in the third quarter. The Miners fought back though, as Holder assisted sophomore Trent Rooks on a layup and hit another 3-pointer to get Bauxite within 24-19 at the 4:03 mark. The Bruins went up by eight after another Brady 3-pointer, but the Miners got consecutive baskets from junior Tyler Hill to get within 27-23 at the 2:42 mark of the third quarter. That’s the closest Bauxite would get.

The Bruins (12-1, 6-0 7-4A) went on a 7-0 run to get up 34-23 after that and outscored the Miners 22-10 the rest of the way for the 16-point victory.

“We knocked down some shots,” Smith said. “I thought everyone contributed really well. Cody [McPherson] didn’t score, but he played one of his better games. He distributed the ball well. He never turned it over. I thought Cody really stepped it up. He didn’t score, but he still played a really good ball game. They were intent on taking him away.”

It was obvious Bauxite senior and leading scorer Cody McPherson was a focal point of PA’s defense. He only took six shots the whole game and was held scoreless, but he did grab six rebounds and dish out five assists. Holder led the Miners with 14 points, hitting 4 of 11 from the 3-point line and Hill had nine points and seven rebounds.

Henry led the Bruins with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Brady had 12 points.

“They’re a great team, but I think our guys showed that we can compete,” Smith said. “I’m proud of them, I thought our effort was good.”
The Miners were outrebounded 29 to 15, but committed just 10 turnovers, while forcing just seven by the Bruins. Bauxite shot 41 percent for the game to PA’s 42 percent.

“They just have so much fire power,” Smith said. “They can shoot 3s and they can beat you off the dribble. They have a lot of ways to score. I bet not too many teams have held them in the 40s scoring. I’m proud of our guys. We competed hard.”

The only team to hold the Bruins under 50 points was Harding Academy. The Bruins won that game 49-43 on Dec. 29.

“I’m never satisfied with the fact that we lose, but I’m really proud of the way our guys competed,” Smith said. “It’s never fun to lose, but at the same time you can hold your head up after certain games. I thought this was a game that we lost, but we can still hold our head up. We did the very best we could.”