Lady Bobcats dominate lane, top Lady Tigers
By Scott Loftis
The Berryville Lady Bobcats can win basketball games in a variety of ways. But their preferred method is simple: feed the post.
The Lady Bobcats executed that plan to near-perfection on Friday night, pounding the ball inside for easy basket after easy basket in a 63-27 victory over county rival Green Forest at Bobcat Arena.
Senior forwards Kelcee Hopper and Hannah Morrell were the beneficiaries of the Lady Bobcats’ commitment to the inside game. The 6-0 Hopper scored a game-high 22 points while the 6-1 Morrell added 15.
“That’s something that we knew we could exploit,” said Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison, whose team improved to 17-0 for the season. “We made a commitment to getting the ball inside. When we know we have something we can exploit, we try to do that.”
While the final score was lopsided, Green Forest coach Kyle Farrar said his team executed its game plan early. The Lady Tigers trailed by just three points after senior Daisy Padilla banked in a three-pointer with 1:42 left in the first quarter that made it 11-8, and Maddie Youngblood’s basket to open the second quarter kept Green Forest
within five points at 15-10.
“They had such a tremendous athletic advantage at most spots,” Farrar said. “For a quarter and a half, we did everything we wanted to do.”
After Youngblood’s basket, Berryville closed the first half with a 17-3 run to widen its lead to 32-13. Hopper had seven points during that run, and senior guard McKayla Hussey finished it when she grabbed an offensive rebound and scored just before the halftime buzzer.
Green Forest’s Ashley Farrar made two free throws with 7:40 remaining to open the third-quarter scoring but Berryville scored the next nine points on three consecutive baskets by Hopper and a three-pointer from Hussey that pushed the Lady Bobcats’ lead to 41-15 with 5:50 remaining in the quarter.
Hussey finished with 10 points, her second consecutive double-digit scoring game.
“Her confidence is just growing by leaps and bounds,” Cornelison said. “She’s done a good job for us all year taking care of the basketball and playing good defense. Now she’s starting to understand what a good shot is and I told her if she gets a good shot, let it fly. She’s just developing the confidence to do that.”
Green Forest rallied briefly after Hussey’s three-pointer. Padilla made two free throws with 5:28 left in the quarter then Ashley Farrar answered a Morrell basket with three-pointer that made it 43-20 at the 4:55 mark.
Still, there was no stopping Berryville’s inside attack. The Lady Bobcats scored the next eight points, all from close range. Junior forward Jordan Estepp capped that run, rebounding her own miss and turning it into a basket that gave Berryville a 51-20 lead with 2:59 left in the quarter.
“For the last half, they just scored every time they touched it,” Kyle Farrar said.
The Lady Bobcats led 55-27 at the end of the third quarter. Sophomore Lilli Compton drilled a three-pointer from the right wing off a kickout pass from Estepp to open the fourth-quarter scoring and sophomore Abby Thurman made it 60-27 when she scored off a long pass from sophomore Sunny Tibbets with 4:33 left.
Estepp scored eight points and earned praise from Cornelison.
“She may be the third-best post player in our conference. She just happens to play behind two potential all-state players,” Cornelison said. “She’s a heck of a post player.”
Kyle Farrar said the Lady Tigers knew they were facing an uphill fight.
“The only way you can keep up with them is if you’re making shots,” he said. “We just don’t have the size to bang around with them. Most teams don’t. When you don’t make shots, it’s really tough.”
Ashley Farrar led Green Forest (6-12) with 16 points.
Berryville will travel to Harrison on Tuesday night for an important conference game. The Lady Goblins are 13-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
“They’re a good team,” Cornelison said. “They don’t do a lot to beat themselves. You’ve got to go beat them.”
Green Forest will host Clinton on Tuesday night.