Hot-shooting Harrison overpowers Lady Bobcats

Friday, February 1, 2019
Berryville’s Kelcee Hopper goes to the basket against Harrison defender Caroline Cecil in Tuesday night’s game at Bobcat Arena. Hopper scored 12 points for Berryville, while Cecil had a game-high 21 for Harrison.
Charles Chappell /

By Scott Loftis

Before his team faced Harrison on Tuesday night, Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison mentioned the Lady Goblins’ ability to make big shots as a big concern.

Unfortunately for the Lady Bobcats, Cornelison was right to be worried.

Harrison made seven three-pointers in the first half and nine altogether to beat Berryville 57-41 at Bobcat Arena. It was the Lady Bobcats’ first loss at home since Dec. 29, 2017, breaking a streak of 18 consecutive home victories.

“I thought they played at a really high level,” Cornelison said. “They shot the ball really well. You have to tip your cap to ’em. They made a lot of big shots.”

The Lady Goblins also avoided turning the ball over and made their free throws. Harrison shot 16-for-18 from the free-throw line, including 11-for-12 in the final three minutes after Berryville had cut an 11-point deficit to four.

“They did what a good team does,” Cornelison said.

Berryville, an experience-laden team coming off three consecutive appearances in the state tournament semifinals, has lost two of its last four games after a 20-0 start. Cornelison said that’s a reflection of the quality of the 4A-1 conference.

“The top four teams in this league are as good as anybody in the state,” he said. “From what I’ve seen, our district tournament is going to be just like a state tournament. That’s how good these teams are.”

The victory left Harrison (18-4, 7-1 4A-1) in control of the conference’s East division with three games left on its regular-season schedule. The Lady Goblins will host the district tournament.

Berryville (22-2, 7-2) will try to draw motivation from the loss, Cornelison said. The Lady Bobcats lost just one in the regular season and did not lose a conference game last season on the way to a 32-3 finish.

“The thing that’s really different from last year to this year is, we are getting pushed on a nightly basis,” Cornelison said. “These teams will expose your weaknesses. I think it can only help us get better.”

Harrison started its three-point barrage early in Tuesday night’s game, hittting four long-distance shots in the first quarter. Berryville fought back from a 16-11 deficit at the end of the quarter to a 17-17 tie when junior guard Lexy Anderson made two free throws with 3:51 left in the second quarter, but the Lady Goblins outscored the Lady Bobcats 9-4 to finish the half — with all of Harrison’s points coming via three-pointers.

“We watched the film, and they were making shots from 25 feet,” Cornelison said.

Harrison stretched its lead to 38-25 on a Brylie Parker three-pointer with 3:08 left in the third quarter, and led 40-29 after a jumper by Caroline Cecil to open the fourth-quarter scoring.

Berryville mounted a comeback led by senior forward Hannah Morrell, who scored eight straight points for the Lady Bobcats. Senior guard Baylea Smith dropped in a three-pointer from the left wing to pull Berryville within four at 44-40 with 3:34 remaining.

From there, however, the Lady Bobcats scored just one point. Meanwhile, Harrison got its next 11 from the free-throw line. Berryville committed turnovers on four consecutive possessions down the stretch as the Lady Goblins put the finishing touches on their victory.

Cornelison said he addressed the turnovers with his team in practice the next day.

“You’ve got to go down there and execute,” he said.

Morrell led the Lady Bobcats with 15 points while senior forward Kelcee Hopper added 12. Cecil scored 21 for Harrison.

Berryville has two regular-season games remaining — at Shiloh Christian on Friday and senior night at home against Huntsville on Feb. 8. Cornelison said the loss to Harrison stung, but hopefully will be a learning experience for the Lady Bobcats.

“They’re disappointed because they didn’t get to win,” he said. “They want to win. They understand that we’ve got to play our best in this league.”

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