Close call: Lady Bobcats rally in 2nd half to beat Harrison
By Scott Loftis
HARRISON — The Berryville Lady Bobcats haven’t lost a regular-season game in more than a year — a streak of 30 consecutive victories.
That streak seemed to be in serious jeopardy Monday night against the Harrison Lady Goblins, but Berryville fought back from an 11-point halftime deficit for a 47-41 road victory that kept the Lady Bobcats’ record spotless this season.
“We didn’t play very well, the first half especially,” Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison said. “Too many turnovers. We just didn’t take care of the basketball very well.”
Harrison pressed for much of the first half and used a late run to build its big halftime lead. The Lady Goblins outscored Berryville 13-4 over the final 2:48 of the second quarter to turn a two-point lead into a 28-17 halftime advantage.
In the second half, though, Berryville (18-0, 3-0 4A-1) rallied behind a clamped-down defense, the scoring of senior forward Kelcee Hopper and the all-around play of junior guard Lexy Anderson.
Harrison (13-4, 2-1) scored just four points in the third quarter as the Lady Bobcats chipped away at the deficit. Hopper scored eight points in the quarter and senior forward Hannah Morrell added four as Berryville cut the deficit to three, at 32-29, entering the fourth quarter.
“I told them, we’re not going to win if we don’t go out and play really well in the second half,” Cornelison said.
Anderson sparked the Lady Bobcats early in the fourth quarter. She scored Berryville’s first two baskets, the second off a nice pass from senior point guard Baylea Smith that pulled Berryville within one point at 34-33 with 6:57 left. On Berryville’s next possession, Anderson whipped a pass to sophomore Lilli Compton in the left corner and Compton found Hopper under the basket for an easy score that put the Lady Bobcats ahead 35-34 with 6:17 left.
Hopper finished with 25 points, her second consecutive game with at least 22.
“She’s done that her whole career,” Cornelison said. “Teams load up to try and stop Hannah, then all Kelcee does is go down there and score. She’s a really, really good back-to-the-basket post player.”
After a Harrison free throw tied the score at 35 with 5:59 left, Berryville answered with a highlight-reel moment. Inbounding the ball from under the basket, Anderson threw a high pass for Morrell, who tipped the ball right back to Anderson for an easy score and a 37-35 lead.
Cornelison credited Anderson, who returned a few weeks ago from a torn ACL suffered in the offseason, with igniting Berryville’s second-half rally.
“She is a dynamic player,” he said. “She does things that other people can’t do. She changed the game for us in the second half.”
Still, Harrison didn’t go down without a fight. In fact, the Lady Goblins tied the score with a transition basket from senior guard Brylie Parker, then took a 40-37 lead when Parker hit a three-pointer with 4:15 remaining.
From there, however, Harrison scored just one more point.
Hopper answered Parker’s three-pointer with a basket from close rang at the 4:02 mark, then Anderson made the second of two free throws to tie the score at 40 with 3:31 left.
Berryville went ahead for good on two free throws by Anderson exactly one minute later, at 2:31. After a Harrison free throw, Compton made two from the line for a 44-41 Berryville lead with 1:07 left.
Harrison used a pair of timeouts on its next possession before shooting an air ball with 18 seconds left. Hopper then got free for a layup, was fouled and added the free throw to finish the three-point play and give Berryville a six-point margin with 10.5 seconds left. Harrison missed a pair of shots before time expired.
Although he was frustrated with his team’s performance against Harrison’s pressure defense, especially in the first half, Cornelison said the victory exemplified the character of the Lady Bobcats, now 50-3 over the past two seasons.
“The key to having a successful season is how well you overcome adversity,” he said. “We just kind of chipped away at it until we got a win.”
Morrell and Anderson each had nine points for the Lady Bobcats, with Anderson’s all coming in the second half. Parker had 16 for Harrison.
Berryville will host Shiloh Christian on Friday night at Bobcat Arena for homecoming.