Lady Miners survive scare

MALVERN – It wasn’t pretty, but the Bauxite Lady Miners extended their season with a 55-51 win over the Maumelle Lady Hornets Wednesday in the 7-4A district tournament in Malvern. The Lady Miners now have No. 2 seed and host Malvern tonight.

The Lady Miners (19-9, 11-4 7-4A), the No. 3 seed, looked as if they were going to have smooth sailing when they got up 21-8 after two Mary Crow free throws with 1:29 left in the first half, and leading 23-11 at halftime, but the third quarter and freshman Kamry Orr had other designs.

Orr actually missed two free throws to start the third quarter, but didn’t miss much after that. After two free throws from Crow to make it 25-11 with 7:16 left in the third, the Lady Hornets went on a 13-0 run to get within 25-24 with 4:55 left. Lady Miners sophomore Jessica Sorvillo found junior Makayla Blanchett for a layup to stop the bleeding, but Maumelle would go into the fourth leading 35-34, outscoring Bauxite 24-11 in the quarter.

Orr and Alexis Ellis each scored 10 points in the quarter for the Lady Hornets.

It was a grinder in the fourth quarter as no team led by more than three points until the end. With Maumelle leading 41-38 after an Orr bucket, the Lady Miners got two free throws from senior Alaina Crouse, who also found sophomore Allison Tackett for a layup to give Bauxite a 42-41 lead at the 4:18 mark. Orr hit a wide-open 3-pointer, her fourth of the game, to give the Lady Hornets a two-point lead, but the Lady Miners responded going on a 6-1 run, the biggest shot coming from a Tackett 3-pointer assisted by Crow, to give Bauxite a 48-45 lead with 2:38 left.

The teams would trade free throws until Crow found Tackett again, this time for a layup to give the Lady Miners a 51-48 lead with 57 seconds left. Orr struck again, though, hitting a 3-pointer 9 seconds later to tie the game at 51 apiece.

With Crow about 30 feet away from the basket, she zipped a pass to Crouse inside, who’s defender had turned her head. Crouse made a head fake and hit the layup to give Bauxite a two-point lead with 32 seconds left.

After Maumelle missed a shot on its next possession, Sorvillo made an ill-advised pass up court which was stolen by Mel Griffey and the Lady Miners fouled her. Griffey missed both free throws with 13.7 seconds left and Crow was fouled and made both of her free throws for the final margin.

“We had to work hard for that one,” Bauxite Coach Josh Harrison said. “Of course, Mary’s clutch. We want the ball in her hands when they want to foul because she likes the ball in her hands in big situations.”

There were some questionable calls from the referees down the stretch where it seemed the Lady Hornets were getting the wrong end of them. Even Bauxite fans agreed on a bad call when Sorvillo threw it out of bounds over Tackett’s head and the refs said a Lady Hornet had touched it.

“I think if we could have come out in the first half and played with as much passion and determination as we did the second half, it’s a totally different ball game,” Maumelle Coach Lauren Buckner said. “The calls that we weren’t getting wouldn’t have mattered. It feels like every game this year we’ve had to fight for everything with the referees.”

Buckner said in Oklahoma, where she is from, coaches could access the ref’s phone number and talk to them, but in Arkansas, coaches can’t do that.

“There’s the accountability right there,” Buckner scoffed. “I hate to blame anything on the refs, I really do, but as adults, it’s your job to make sure everything is under control, not to control who wins.”

Regardless, the Lady Miners’ season continues despite shooting 28 percent from the field.

“That’s taking poor shots,” Harrison said. “We forced threes too much. We were being aggressive, but it was just one of those nights we didn’t shoot it well at all.”

Crow finished with a team-high 17 points and four assists, and also contributed two rebounds and two steals. Crouse scored 15 points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, hitting 3 of 5 from 3-point range. Tackett added 10 points and five rebounds, and sophomore Ashley Eisenhauer had nine points, five rebounds, an assist and a steal.

“I thought Ashley Eisenhauer played a whale of a game off the bench,” Harrison said. “Without her effort tonight, I don’t think we could have won the game. She came in and gave some good minutes when Mary was in foul trouble. She played with a ton of energy out there.”

Orr had a game-high 21 points for the Lady Hornets, shooting 5 of 7 from behind the arc.

The Lady Miners take on the Malvern Lady Leopards tonight at 6:40, after the Miners’ boys game.