Dominant performance: Lady Bobcats run away from No. 2 Farmington
By Scott Loftis
On paper, Tuesday night’s game between the Berryville Lady Bobcats and the Farmington Lady Cardinals had all the makings of a tense, four-quarter fight.
On the court, however, it was just another blowout for the Lady Bobcats.
Dominating in every phase, from start to finish, Berryville beat Farmington 54-25 for its 32nd consecutive regular-season victory — a streak that dates back to December 2017.
Senior forward Kelcee Hopper scored a game-high 18 points for the Lady Bobcats, who also got 15 from senior guard Baylea Smith and 11 from senior forward Hannah Morrell.
Even Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison admitted to being surprised by the lopsided outcome.
“I had no idea that we could do that,” he said. “I knew that we could play well and beat ’em, but I didn’t know we could do that.”
Berryville (20-0, 5-0 4A-1) started the night as the top-ranked Class 4A team in Arkansas by MaxPreps, with Farmington (15-4, 4-1) ranked second. By the middle of the second quarter, however, the Lady Bobcats had established firm control of the game.
Farmington led just once, at 1-0, after senior guard Alexis Roach made the second of two free throws 41 seconds into the game. After a 4-4 tie, the Lady Bobcats scored six consecutive points for a 10-4 lead. Farmington junior Makenna Vanzant scored on a putback to pull the Lady Cardinals within four at 10-6, but then the rout was on.
With 1:12 left in the first quarter, Smith made a three-pointer from the top of the key that gave the Lady Bobcats a 13-6 advantage and started a 21-0 Berryville run.
Smith, who had 13 points in the first half, hit another three-pointer from the left wing with 6:16 left in the second quarter. Less than a minute later, junior guard Lexy Anderson dropped in a three-pointer from the right baseline for a 21-6 Berryville lead.
“When we make shots it just opens things up for us,” Cornelison said. “It’s when we’re not making shots that things can get kind of tight for us.”
Morrell converted a three-point play, Hopper scored from inside the lane and Smith hit her third three-pointer of the first half to push the Lady Bobcats’ lead to 29-6 before Hopper ended the run with another basket from close range.
Farmington rallied briefly to cut Berryville’s lead back to 20 points before Smith hit a bank shot in transition for a 37-15 halftime lead.
Cornelison said Smith’s big performance in a big game was no surprise.
“She loves those games,” Cornelison said. “She’s a competitor. Those games are what she lives for. She just thrives in those moments.”
Staked to the big cushion, the Lady Bobcats used their powerful interior attack to wear down Farmington in the third quarter. Berryville outscored the Lady Cardinals 14-4 in the quarter, with Hopper scoring 10 points and Morrell adding four.
Hopper scored her 1,000th career point on her first basket of the second half. She joined Smith and Morrell, both of whom reached the milestone earlier this season.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” Cornelison said. “It’s a credit to how hard she has worked. In my opinion, she’s developed into one of the best low-post players in the state. She loves to catch the ball around the basket, and she knows what to do with it.”
Farmington made just one shot from the field in the third quarter, and it came with less than a minute left and the Lady Cardinals trailing by 34 points.
“They like to play in rhythm, and their rhythm is fast,” Cornelison said. “When they get going at a high speed, they do everything better. We did a good job of disrupting that, and I think that was the key to the game.”
The Arkansas Activities Association sportsmanship rule was in effect for the fourth quarter, meaning the clock ran continuously. Farmington outscored Berryville 6-3 in the quarter, but it was far too late to affect the final outcome.
Berryville faces another potentially difficult game on Friday, when the Lady Bobcats travel to Pea Ridge. The Lady Blackhawks (17-3, 4-1) are ranked fourth in Class 4A.
“They do a lot of things well,” Cornelison said. “They’re just a really good, fundamentally sound basketball team. It’s a team you have to beat. They’re not going to beat themselves.”
Berryville beat Pea Ridge 44-39 on Nov. 10 in the championship game of the Queens of the Court tournament at Green Forest. Berryville was plagued by foul trouble in the first half of that game and trailed by eight points early in the third quarter before rallying to win.
“They believe they can beat us,” Cornelison said. “We definitely are pulling some things from that game. The one thing I think they’ll pull from it is the confidence that they can beat us. We’ll have to play as well as we did Tuesday, or better, to win.”