Lady Cardinals win, boys' woes continue

For most schools throughout the state, the Christmas and New Year’s holidays mean time off from homework, class and sports for athletes. But, not for the Harmony Grove senior high basketball teams. Both teams got back to work on Tuesday night, one day before even returning to school full time. The Lady Cardinals kicked the night off with a 3A conference match up against Episcopal. And what a Happy New Year it was for the Lady Cardinals, as they beat the Lady Wildcats 47-24.

The Lady Cardinals started the night off with flat shooting from the floor. The Lady Cardinals missed their first three attempts before senior guard Macy Coffee hit her second free-throw attempt of the night to give her team an early 1-0 lead with 6:05 left in the first quarter.

The Lady Cardinals jumped out to a 7-0 first quarter lead before Episcopal scored on a short jumper to make the score 7-2 in the first. The Lady Cardinals added six straight points before allowing another Episcopal score to take a 13-2 lead still in the first. The Lady Wildcats ended the first quarter with their second bucket but still found themselves trailing big 13-4.

The Lady Cardinals continued their dominance in the second quarter, moving their lead to 18-4 midway through the second quarter. Junior Laura Britt was a big key in the Lady Cardinals’ success early, using very good penetration and ball movement to get to the basket.

The Lady Cardinals ended the first half with a 19-point lead at 29-10. Unlike many games this year, the Lady Cardinals continued to play very well on in to the second half. Despite trading buckets with the Lady Wildcats in the third quarter, the Lady Cardinals found themselves still leading by 19 at 35-16 at the end of three. The Lady Cardinals did miss their last five shots in the third quarter.

Harmony Grove used another 7-0 run to take their biggest lead of the night at 42-16 early in the fourth quarter. Much like the first three quarters, the Lady Cardinals used key shooting and defensive dominance in the fourth quarter to down Episcopal 47-24.

The Lady Cardinals’ defense did not allow more than eight points in any quarter on Tuesday. Harmony Grove hit 32 percent from the floor, making 19-59 for the game. Episcopal hit only 22 percent making 11-48 on the night.

Britt led the Lady Cardinals with 11 points, followed by Torie Simmons with nine and Coffee with eight.

“If you look back at to the past few ballgames, you can see that the scoring has been very balanced,” Harmony Grove’s head coach John White said. “We still shoot the wrong shot sometimes and we have got to learn what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot.”

With the win, the Lady Cardinals grab their first conference win of the season after dropping the first two to Mayflower and Arkansas Baptist.
“It’s always good to get your first conference win,” White said. “We were a little bit sluggish at times, but I think that was a little bit do to the holidays.”

Due to the Arkansas Razorbacks playing in the Cotton Bowl on Friday, the Lady Cardinals’ game has been moved to Thursday night at Jessieville with opening tip set for 6 p.m.

But even with the short week, the Lady Cardinals’ game plan has not changed.

“We have got to take care of the basketball and we have got to go out and compete,” White said. “We have to compete for every loose ball and every rebound and take it one play at a time.”

The senior boys ended the night but not nearly on the same note as the Lady Cardinals as the boys lost to the Wildcats by a large margin, 65-29.

The Cardinals were shutout in the first quarter 23-0 by the very talented and fast Wildcats. The second quarter was much different as the Cardinals put up a little more of a fight, scoring 16 but allowing 21 more, stalling the halftime score at 44-16.

“If you can’t score, you can’t win,” head Cardinals’ coach Richard Moore said. “We knew that Episcopal was going to pressure and we made good cuts and did a lot of stuff right, but when you can’t score, that stuff doesn’t matter.”

The Wildcats continued to shoot the ball very well from the field in the second half, jumping out to a huge 50-21 lead in the third quarter. Moments later the Wildcats hit the mercy mark of 30 at 53-23, forcing the clock to run in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats pulled out to a 40-point lead in the fourth quarter before the Cardinals ended the game with a 4-0 run as they fell 65-29.

The Cardinals shot only 21 percent from the floor, making just nine shots on the night. Episcopal hit 50 percent of their shots, including 6-12 from the 3-point line. The Wildcats’ leading scorer had 20 points. Gabe Richard led the Cardinals with nine with two 3-pointers.

Rebounding has been a big key in the Cardinals’ losses this season and it continued on Tuesday as they were outplayed on the boards 26-19. The Wildcats grabbed 12 offensive boards on the night.

“We give them credit of crashing the boards and being athletic,” Moore said. The Cardinals will play after the Lady Cardinals on Thursday at Jessieville. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. for boys.