Miners lead big early, lose by 16

The Bauxite Miners led by 11 in the first quarter against the Malvern Leopards, but lost 67-51 on Thursday night in 7-4A conference action in Malvern.

The Miners (9-6, 2-2 7-4A) led 17-6 early in the first quarter with the help of two Hunter Holder 3-pointers and took a 21-13 advantage going into the second quarter with help from senior Cody McPherson’s nine first-quarter points. Bauxite was up 21-10, but Malvern hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“We were just knocking down open shots,” Bauxite Coach Mark Smith said about the hot start. “We were executing real well on offense and really limiting them to one shot defensively. Everything was clicking for us and we were playing well."

The Leopards kept it closer in the second quarter, outscoring the Miners 18-16, but Bauxite took a 37-31 lead into halftime.
Smith probably would have wanted to skip halftime and just go into the third quarter as Malvern outscored Bauxite 16-5 to take a 47-42 lead going into the fourth.

“We came out the second half with not a whole lot of energy,” Smith said. “After a really strong first half, it’s sometimes really hard to come back out after a little bit of delay of halftime to pick up the momentum and intensity of the first half, and I was kind of worried about that.

“Those shots that were dropping in the first half, we were missing the same shots in the second half. The third quarter is what beat us.”
The Leopards hit three 3-pointers in the second half and outrebounded the Miners in the second half to help propel their run.

“They were really big; a lot bigger than we are,” Smith said.

The Miners got down by eight points with about two minutes left in the game and were forced to foul. The Leopards hit 7 of 9 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

“We couldn’t ever get our momentum back that we had in the first half,” Smith said. “I thought our shot selection was not real good once we got up. We should have been working more clock. Our guys got a little bit anxious and pulled the trigger a little bit early.

“In the second half, when we got down, I thought that we panicked and our shot selection got bad again. We didn’t execute the way we were in the first half.”

Smith said Malvern is a good team, but it was definitely a game Bauxite could have won if they could have put two halves of basketball together, which is imperative, especially in conference play. Smith explained further about the letdown.

“Sometimes you can play real well and get a little bit complacent and the other team not play well, and they turn up the intensity knowing that’s the only way they can win,” he said. “We just didn’t match fire with fire in the second half. They came out with intensity and we didn’t.

“Our intensity on defense was a little bit of a letdown too. That’s been a little bit of a problem with us. We play really well defensively for three quarters and that fourth quarter we tend to kind of let our guard down and that has cost us some games and made other games closer than they should have been.”

McPherson led the Miners with 21 points. Holder, a sophomore, hit four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points, and junior Tyler Hill had 10 points.

“Our guys are really playing hard, there is no question about that,” Smith said. “I was really proud with their effort. I just wish we would have had the same intensity and fire throughout the game that we had in the first half.”

Lady Miners
The Bauxite Lady Miners dropped their first 7-4A conference game of the season when they lost 62-36 to the Malvern Lady Leopards Thursday in Malvern.

The Lady Leopards outscored the Lady Miners (11-6, 3-1 7-4A) in every quarter, including 20-5 in the third quarter to cruise to victory.

Junior Mary Crow led Bauxite with 16 points, but shot just 5 of 15 from the field (33 percent). Crow contributed five steals in the loss. Junior forward Makayla Blanchett scored seven points and had five rebounds. Senior Alaina Crouse finished with five points and seven rebounds.

As a team, the Lady Miners shot 25 percent from the floor and trailed 30-21 at the half.