Starting strong: 19-0 opening run helps Lady Bobcats roll past West Fork
By Scott Loftis
Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison wanted to see the Lady Bobcats get off to a good start in their season opener, and his team delivered.
Senior forward Hannah Morrell scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first five minutes as Berryville raced to a 19-0 lead, and the Lady Bobcats cruised to a 51-19 victory over West Fork in the second round of the Queens of the Court Tournament at Green Forest’s Grim Gym.
“We really started the game well,” Cornelison said. “We started off with the energy that we needed to have. We had to have a strong start, and we did.”
Morrell led the way, dominating the inside on both ends of the floor. Her steal and driving layup gave the Lady Bobcats a 6-0 lead with 5:30 left in the first quarter and she made it 15-0 when she sank a three-pointer from the top of the key with 3:52 remaining.
In between, Morrell showed off her passing skills. She found Kelcee Hopper inside for a basket that made it 10-0 and on the next possession flipped a pass to Hopper, who was fouled and made two free throws for a 12-0 lead.
“She’s a tremendous player,” Cornelison said of Morrell. “When she wants to take over a game, she can take over a game. She set the tone. She makes my job easier.”
Berryville led 23-4 at the end of the first quarter and extended its lead to 33-10 when senior point guard Baylea Smith sank her second three-pointer in a little more than two minutes.
Berryville scored just 16 points in the second half after leading 35-11 at halftime, but the Lady Bobcats never let up defensively. Berryville utilized a full-court press at times during the first half but spent most of the second half in a 2-3 zone that cut off the lane and forced West Fork into difficult shots.
“We preach all the time that sometimes it’s going to be tough to score, but if you keep the other team from scoring, you’ll be OK,” Cornelison said.
Berryville led 41-16 after three quarters and emptied its bench midway through the fourth quarter after junior guard Kelsey Smith sank a three-pointer to make it 46-16 off an inside-out pass from Hopper.
Sophomore guard Sunny Tibbets punctuated the Berryville victory with a three-pointer from the left wing that set the final score with 46 seconds left.
Hopper had 11 points for Berryville, while Baylea Smith added 10 and Kelsey Smith scored eight.
Berryville advanced to face Greenland in a semifinal game Thursday night. The championship game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.