Lady Tigers overcome slow start to ease past Lady Highlanders
BERRYVILLE -- Kaitlin Powell scored a season-high 28 points and Green Forest overcame a sluggish start to tip off the Carroll County Hardwood Challenge with a 55-39 win over Eureka Springs Thursday night at Bobcat Arena.
The Lady Tigers (8-3) led just 8-6 after the opening period. But a 25-point effort in the second frame extended Green Forest's lead to 33-18 at the half and Eureka Springs (6-8) struggled to keep up in the second half.
"Fatigue, pressure and they are a good basketball team," Eureka Springs coach Brian Rambo said. "They have a good tradition. But we are doing things well offensively. We just have to figure out how to finish."
The Lady Highlanders did finish in the first period, trailing by only two. But Powell struck for 13 points in the stanza, including hitting 9-of-10 free throws to help the Lady Tigers gain an insurmountable lead.
"They played a lot better than they have played in the past," Green Forest coach Kyle Farrar said. "They did a lot of good things early. Their big kids, especially Abbey Moore, are markedly better. She played really well. She's athletic and tall."
Moore finished with 12 points for the Lady Highlanders.
But it was all Green Forest for much of the affair as the Lady Tigers got 13 points from Kodee Powell and 10 from Payton Watson. Green Forest was without starting forward Anna Blach, who suffered a knee injury in the championship game against Berryville in the Omaha Border Classic on Saturday. Blach will be re-examined on Monday.
"We are trying to figure out what we are going to do without Anna for a little while," Farrar said. "So everything was a work in progress for us tonight. We worked on some things and hopefully got some things worked out."
Farrar took the second-half advantage as an opportunity to empty his bench while fine-tuning his squad as the second half of the season approaches.
"We are not known as a team that plays a zone," Farrar said. "We are having to do some things to make up for a lack of size and physicality. We are having to learn some things on the run. Everybody played tonight. And for the things we worked on they didn't do a bad job."
The Lady Tigers take Friday off while Eureka Springs returns to Bobcat Arena to face Berryville in its final game of the event. Junior varsity action tips off at 4 p.m. with varsity to follow. Green Forest returns to the arena on Saturday to take on the host Lady Bobcats in a rematch of last Saturday's title game in Omaha.
Rambo said the Lady Highlanders need to capitalize on good defensive play by converting on the offensive end of the floor.
"We have to make shots and take advantage of opportunities," Rambo said. "When you get a stop on defense and then don't convert on the other end it's disheartening. It comes from being indecisive. It is lack of experience. It's a process and we are getting there."
The Lady Highlanders have doubled their win total from last year, giving Rambo reason to look forward to the rest of the season.
"We have a long way to go," Rambo said. "That (Green Forest) was a good basketball team. We are going to be playing teams more our caliber come conference time. And we have a chance to win those games. Our goal right now is to get to the regional tournament. We would love to beat Green Forest. But these games right now are about getting better. We learned a lot tonight."