Lady Cats claim Omaha Border title
OMAHA -- Berryville captured its first tournament title in more than five years with a 65-52 win over cross-county rival Green Forest in Saturday's championship game of the Omaha Border Classic.
"This was the first championship for this program in at least five or six years," Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison said. "The girls were very excited and I am so happy for them. We needed this kind of win."
The Lady Cats jumped out to an early 17-6 lead by playing full-court pressure defense, something Green Forest coach Kyle Farrar said the Lady Tigers were not prepared for.
"We were not ready to play and handle the ball and they took it to us," he said. "We were not ready for their press. In the second quarter we handled it better. But we took a standing 8-count in the first quarter."
The Lady Tigers closed the gap, at times as small as two points in the third and fourth periods. But the Lady Cats continued to apply pressure and held on for the win.
"We knew they were going to keep coming at us," Cornelison said. "But every time they did we held them off."
Green Forest was within four at 45-41 entering the final stanza and within eight at 58-50 with 1:48 left in the game when junior Anna Blach went down with a knee injury. With Blach sidelined, the Lady Cats scored the final seven points to put the game away.
"They are extremely athletic," Farrar said of the Lady Cats. "(Coach Cornelison) can run so many bodies at us. I only have five or six and he ran about 13 at us. They wore us out. They did exactly what we expected them to do. They have a ton of athletes."
Cornelison said his squad executed well on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
"I was really pleased with our effort up and down the floor," he said. "And Sara Johnson gave us a huge boost on the boards (eight rebounds)."
Hannah Needham and Britni Smith poured in 13 points apiece to lead Berryville in scoring. Hayley Skelton added 10.
Kodee Powell led Green Forest with 17 points, Kaitlin Powell added 13, Blach had 11 and Payton Watson and Zara Leivan had four each. Kenley Williams finished with three.
The teams will square off again this week in a scheduled meeting at the Carroll County Hardwood Challenge at Bobcat Arena on Saturday. The event starts on Thursday with Green Forest and Eureka Springs facing off. Junior varsity tips off at 4 p.m. with girls and boys with varsity girls and boys to follow. Berryville take on Eureka Springs on Friday with Saturday's rival activity set for the same times.
Following an evaluation, Blach's injury is not expected to keep her out of action for long. But she is not expected to return before Saturday, something that concerns Farrar.
"It presents a problem because it takes an incredibly talented kid off the floor for us," Farrar said. It's going to put more pressure on our younger kids. We are going to have to employ some different strategies. It's not going to be an easy rematch."