Lady Bobcats lose to Riverview, ending their season
Saturday was a sad end to a successful season for the Berryville Lady Bobcats, as they lost to the Riverview Lady Raiders, 55-52 in the semifinals of the Class 4A state tournament at Brookland.
It was the third consecutive state semifinal appearance for the Lady Bobcats.
"Our goal all year long was to play in the state championship game," Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison said. "It's tough right now, but when you give us a few weeks to give some perspective on it, I mean what a great year. The girls played so well all year long. They set a school record for wins. Back-to-back regional championships. They got a conference championship and won a tournament championship. It was just an outstanding year. It hurts the way it ended, but in retrospect, you have to tip your hat to these young ladies. They are a great group of young ladies. They compete hard. They play hard and had a great season."
Riverview led 45-40 a minute into the fourth quarter before two free throws and a three-pointer by Baylea Smith on consecutive possessions tied the game at 45-45 midway through the fourth quarter. After the Lady Raiders made a basket, Kelcee Hopper answered by making a basket of her own to tie the game at 47-47.
After holding the ball for nearly a minute, Riverview made another basket to take a 49-47 lead with 2:02 to go in the game. The Lady Raiders then stole the ball and made two free throws to increase their lead to four.
Aspen Smith made a three-pointer, trimming the lead to one with 35 seconds remaining. Riverview then made two free throws to go up by three. A missed three-pointer by Baylea Smith put Riverview on the line with 10 seconds left and a chance to end the game. After Riverview missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Baylea Smith missed a shot at the buzzer.
"It was a tie game late in the game, we just couldn't get a stop and a score," Cornelison said. "We needed a stop and a score. We might get a stop, but we couldn't get the score. We just couldn't get over the hump. And you have to give a lot of credit to Riverview. In games like that, you need a break and we didn't get one. They seemed to get a few and we couldn't. That's why they won and we didn't."
Hannah Morrell and Hopper combined for 11 of Berryville's 18 points in the first quarter. The game was tied at 18-18 going into the second quarter. A Baylea Smith three-pointer gave Berryville a 23-20 lead two minutes into the second quarter. Morrell stole the ball and scored to give Berryville a 25-23 lead midway through the quarter, but the Lady Raiders closed the half on a 13-6 run and took a 36-31 lead into halftime.
Cornelison hoped to see Berryville come out and win the first four minutes of the second half, but the Lady Bobcats were unable to do that, as Riverview led by five midway through the third quarter.
"Something we strongly believe in is winning the first four minutes of the second half," Cornelison said. "And we did defensively. We just couldn't get a score. It killed all of our momentum. But you have to give a lot of credit to Riverview. They did a good job defensively, especially on our bigs in the second half."
Riverview led 43-40 going into the fourth quarter. Hopper finished the game with 16 points, while Baylea Smith had 11 and Lexy Anderson had nine. Berryville finished the year 32-3.
Berryville 58, ESTEM 46
The Berryville Lady Bobcats won by 12 points, but the game was much closer than the final score indicates. With 3:48 remaining in the game, the coach of the Lady Mets received a technical foul. From there, Berryville ended the game on a 18-2 run.
"At that point, we were down by four," Cornelison said. "That definitely changed momentum. We were able to cut into the lead. They are a very athletic and talented team. They guarded us real physical and gave us some problems for awhile, but once we got the lead late, our kids felt like they were going to win the game. They took over, made their free throws and did what they had to do to win."
Berryville jumped out to a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. Hopper, Morrell and Anderson combined to score 41 of Berryville's 58 points against ESTEM.
Cornelison is proud of the effort the trio played with.
"You can't say enough about the play that Hannah made to give us the lead late," Cornelison said. "She caught it and you could see the determination on our face. She was going to put the ball in the basket and wasn't going to be denied. Lexy, she just had a great run from the district tournament on. She carried us at times. Players step up and make plays. Kelcee was another one who did that."
Baylea Smith got a steal in the second quarter and that helped Berryville take a 26-25 lead into halftime. Anderson scored a basket to start the second half, but the Lady Mets came back to take a 39-36 into the fourth quarter. Hopper and Baylea Smith made back-to-back baskets to start the fourth quarter.
Cornelison was glad to see Berryville make the comeback against ESTEM.
"That shows a lot about their character," Cornelison said. "They weren't going to be denied in that game. ESTEM is a team that is athletic and as good as we have faced all year. They just fought and gave us a chance. When the opportunity presented itself, they took advantage."