Lady Bobcats overpower Clinton, earn state bid
PRAIRIE GROVE -- It's one thing to take an experienced team to a state tournament. It's another to take a group of players to the state tournament who had never played a game of organized basketball together until November. That is what the Berryville Lady Bobcats did Thursday evening when they defeated Clinton, 70-45 in the first round of the 4A North regional tournament.
"To see the growth and maturity of this team is remarkable," Lady Bobcat coach Daniel Cornelison said. "I have ran out of adjectives to describe them. They persevere, they work hard. They have great team work. It's pretty unbelievable when thinking about how far this team has come from the beginning of the season to now."
Berryville has relied on its defense all year, but in the first quarter it appeared the Lady Bobcats were going to have to rely on their offense, as they gave up 16 points and trailed by a point. Hannah Morrell had 10 points in the quarter to keep the Lady Bobcats in the game though.
"We knew Hannah had to have a great game," Cornelison said. "It was set up for her. Their post defense is not what she faces in our league. Give her credit, she did a great job finishing around the rim."
The Lady Bobcats opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run and Baylea Smith hit a three-pointer with six seconds left to give Berryville a 30-21 halftime lead.
"Baylea hitting that three, I thought was a huge momentum-swing for us heading into halftime," Cornelison said.
A three to start the third quarter by Aspen Smith and a three-point play helped extend the Berryville lead as the third quarter started. The Lady Bobcats led 48-28 going into the fourth quarter. Kelcee Hopper came off the bench to score eight points in the fourth quarter. The Lady Bobcats will play Pottsville on Friday, a team Berryville lost to in the first round of the regional tournament last year.
"It's the first time we have played them where it's not been the first round of the regional tournament and having to get into the state tournament," Cornelison said. "I beat him two years ago. He beat me last year so this year we can just go play basketball and see what happens."
Berryville will play at 7 p.m. in Prairie Grove.
Ozark 70, Berryville 50
After coming back from a 21-point halftime deficit last week against Gravette, the Berryville Bobcats should have felt at ease when only being down by 14. Sadly for Berryville, last week's luck against Gravette didn't repeat itself Thursday night against the Ozark Hillbillies in the first round of the 4A North regional tournament.
The Bobcats fell behind 10-8 midway through the first quarter and went on to trail 21-13 at the end of the first quarter. Ozark's Greg Wells had 11 points in the quarter and finished with 22. Despite Ty Allen coming off the bench with five points in the second quarter, the Hillbillies extended their lead to 39-25 at halftime.
Ozark opened the second half on a 10-4 run. Despite back-to-back baskets by Cole Parton to trim the lead to 15, the Hillbillies led 55-35 going into the fourth quarter. Allen and Brady Smith each made three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Seth Helmlinger finished the game with 14 points while Parton had 13 and Allen and Smith each had eight.
The Bobcats finished the season 18-13