Dean's 33 Paces Lady Cougars Past Armorel
The Rector Lady Cougars are set for regional tournament play this week at Calico Rock, after qualifying for additional postseason play last Friday in the district tournament at Bay. The RHS girls fell in the first round to the eventual tourney champs from Bay, then rebounded to post a 12 point win over Armorel in the third-fourth place seeding game to advance. Due to the fact there are only four girls teams in the conference this season all four advance to the regional.
The Lady Cougars drew the host Lady Yellowjackets in the first round of their district tournament game at Bay, and found themselves facing an early deficit they could never erase.
Coming out of the locker room with a hot hand, the hosts jumped to a 19-0 lead before Rector answered with a Dominique Coln three-pointer near the end of the first quarter. The Yellowjackets responded with the first six points of the second quarter to make it 25-3, only to see the Lady Cougars go on a 9-2 run to pull to a 27-12 score. Late in the second Kaylee Crain nailed a field goal for Bay to set the halftime score at 29-12.
The host team came out and scored the first four points of the second half on baskets by Abby Frisby and Sydney Higgins. Moments later Rector closed to a 33-17 score on two free throws by Matison Dean, followed by an old-fashioned three-point play by the Cougar senior.
The Bay girls answered with a 10 point run, effectively putting the game away.
Dean led the Rector girls with 10, Coln finished with 5, Gabby Clark had 2 points and Mylessa Gant finished with 2. Whitlee Layne and Mallory Hartley were both in double figures for Bay, scoring 14 and 11 respectively in the win.
The loss to top-seeded Bay earned the Lady Cougars a spot in the third-fourth place seeding game against Armorel, a team they had squeaked-by in their last regular season meeting. But, the Rector girls were up to the challenge Friday evening, outscoring the Lady Tigers in all but the fourth quarter, as they posted a 49-37 win.
The Lady Cougars got the first possession, after Armorel lost the opening tip out-of-bounds, but couldn't capitalize. Off the missed bucket, Lady Tiger Blythe Hollingsead responded with a field goal, then added another off a Coln miss to make it 4-0 Armorel. Rector's Dean responded at the 6:10 mark of the first quarter with the first of her six three-pointers, as the score stood 4-3 Lady Tigers.
Armorel then added another free throw before the Cougars would answer with a field goal by Gant to tie the game at 5-5.
Rector Coach Matt Dean called for full court pressure as the quarter continued, as the two squads swapped baskets, and dry trips down the floor, throughout the remainder of the frame. At the end of one the Lady Cougars enjoyed the slimmest of leads at 11-10.
As the second quarter got underway, Dean found her groove and hit four three-point baskets in the frame, along with a pair of free throws. Behind the output of Dean the Cougars outscored Armorel 18-14 to take a 29-24 lead into the locker room at the half.
Following the break, the Lady Cougars stepped-up the defensive intensity, outscoring Armorel 16-6 in the third quarter to take a 45-30 advantage.
In the fourth quarter Rector was held to just a pair of free throws each from Dean and Clark, while Armorel tried to mount a comeback but could only muster seven points in the period to set the final.
Dean had a huge game for the Cougars, leading all scorers with 33 points on the night, including six of the team's seven three-point baskets. She was also 11 of 13 from the free throw line.
"This is probably the best game we've played all year," Coach Dean said afterward. "We did a good job of moving the ball, shot well and played good defense. I was really pleased with the way the game went tonight."
In addition to Dean's 33 points, the Lady Cougars got 8 points from Clark, 5 from Coln and another 3 from Gant late in the game. Top scorers for Armorel were Ayerielle Appleton with 17 and Hollingsead with 12. As a team, the Rector girls were 16 of 22 from the charity stripe, while the Lady Tigers converted on 4 of 6 trips to the line on the night.
Afterward, it was announced that both Dean and Clark had been chosen as All-Conference selections, and they were recognized during the postgame ceremonies.
The Lady Cougars will take on Izard County at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in the 1A Region 2 tournament at Calico Rock. With a win they'll take on Bay once again at 4 p.m. on Friday. The girls third-fourth place game will be played at noon Saturday with the championship game set for 6 p.m. at Calico Rock High School. One win in the regional will also insure the Lady Cougars a spot in the upcoming 1A state basketball tournament at Mt. Ida.
Wednesday evening the Bay girls advanced with a 68-27 win over the host Calico Rock team while Norfork dismantled Armorel by a tally of 83-15. Norfork will face the winner of tonight's Maynard-Mammoth Spring contest Friday evening in the semi-finals.