Lady Cougars Advance at NEA, Fall in Second Round
The Rector girls easily advanced to the second round of the NEA over the Lady Warriors of Ridgefield Christian, then fell in a barn-burner to the Lady Warriors of EPC.
BY Ryan Rogers
The Lady Cougars advanced to the second round of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament with a 50-35 victory over Ridgefield Christian in the first round of games at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center on Dec. 23.
Junior duo Tori Hill and Colby Lynch each had a big afternoon for the Lady Cougars. Hill finished with a game-best 20 points in the victory, and Lynch capitalized with a strong showing in the post to net 15 points. Matison Dean added nine points for RHS. Marla Crancer, three points, Sophi Adams, two points, and Dominique Coln, one, rounded out the Rector scoring.
Lynch carried the load on offense in the early going, consistently working hard under the goal to get good looks at the basket, secure offensive rebounds and get to the free throw stripe. Lynch nine of the Lady Cougars' 15 first quarter points on her own, hitting two layups, a putback and three free throws.
Rector initially struggled from beyond the arc, but Hill began to find the range late in the first half before burying two triples in each of the final two frames en route to sinking five treys in the contest.
On the defensive side, the Lady Cougar press disrupted Ridgefield Christian's offense, resulting in numerous turnovers and miscommunication. Rector's defense made nearly each trip down the court a difficult endeavor for their opponents, resulting in transition opportunities for the Lady Cougars.
A key run at the start of the third quarter saw the Lady Cougars go on a 13-0 run during a period of around three and one-half minutes. Ridgefield managed just four points in the third, which saw Rector take a strong 39-22 lead into the final frame. The Lady Cougars led 15-8 after the first quarter and 26-17 at intermission.
"We struggled some with our shooting, but we were able to create some opportunities with our defense and pull out the win," RHS coach Matt Dean said. "I thought Tori hit some big threes for us in the second half. Colby Lynch gave us a boost when we needed it early on, and played tough inside. It's only going to get tougher, though, in a tournament like this."
East Poinsett County
BY ANTHONY COSSEY
Matison Dean missed the front end of a one and one free throw with 14 seconds left that could have tied or given Rector the lead as the EPC Lady Warriors escaped with a 38-36 win in the girls' NEA Invitational Division I quarterfinals this past Saturday in Jonesboro.
Rector jumped out to an 8-0 lead as Marla Crancer hit a pair of free throws and a three-pointer around a Tori Hill three-pointer with 5:27 left in the opening period. EPC cut the lead to 8-3 before Crancer hit one of two free throws to make it 9-3 Rector. EPC scored the next 12 points to take a 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Colby Lynch hit a running jumper early in the second quarter to make it 16-11 EPC. Crancer hit a free throw with 4:42 left making the score 18-12 Lady Warriors. Hill's jumper cut the lead to 18-14 before the Lady Warriors scored the last six points of the half to take a 24-14 lead at the half.
Dean opened the third quarter scoring with a three-pointer followed by a bucket from Crancer to make it 24-19 EPC. Crancer grabbed a rebound and scored to make 25-21 EPC with 3:13 left in the quarter. Dean's three from the left wing and Lynch's free throw with two seconds left made it 27-25 Lady Warriors headed to the final quarter.
Crancer gave the Lady Cougars their first lead since the opening quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 28-27 early in final quarter. EPC took the lead before Lynch converted a conventional three-point play to make it 31-29 Lady Cougars. EPC took a 32-31 lead only to see Dean score down low to make it 33-32 Rector. EPC canned a three-pointer to go up 35-33 before Lynch scored off an offensive rebound to tie the game at 35. EPC got a jumper to fall and Lynch hit one of two free throws to make the score 37-36 Lady Warriors. A combined six straight trips to the free throw failed to net a point for either team. EPC added a free throw late to set the final score.
Crancer lead the Lady Cougars with 14 points as Lynch added nine points.
The Lady Cougars will resume regular season play beginning at 6 p.m. Jan. 5 when they visit BIC for a key 2A-3 conference matchup. The girls are set to visit Hillcrest beginning at 5 p.m. on Jan. 9