Playoff run: Lady Bobcats clinch regional bid, reach district final
By Scott Loftis
HARRISON — The Berryville Lady Bobcats are headed back to the regional tournament, but first they’ll play for the conference tournament championship.
The Lady Bobcats (26-2) advanced to Saturday’s championship game with a pair of lopsided victories in the conference tournament at Goblin Arena, defeating Gravette 67-40 on Wednesday before topping Pea Ridge 49-33 in Thursday’s semifinal game.
Berryville’s powerful frontline led the way in both victories. Senior forward Kelcee Hopper scored 25 points against Gravette and senior forward Hannah Morrell had 16 in the victory over Pea Ridge.
Berryville will play for the conference tournament championship at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Thursday night’s game between Harrison and Farmington.
The victory over Pea Ridge avenged one of the Lady Bobcats’ two losses this season and gave Berryville two wins in three meetings against the Lady Blackhawks.
Hopper and junior guard Lexy Anderson scored 13 points apiece in the win over Pea Ridge.
The Lady Bobcats outscored the Lady Blackhawks 19-9 in the first quarter and led by 22 points early in the fourth quarter before clearing their bench.
Against Gravette, Berryville continually fed the ball inside to its post players, who accounted for 55 points. Morrell scored 20 to go along with Hopper’s 25 and junior Jordan Estepp added 10 points off the bench for the Lady Bobcats.
“We figured they would have a hard time guarding our posts, and they did,” Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison said.
Berryville’s guards, meanwhile, hounded Gravette defensively and created easy shots in the post by swinging the ball quickly from side to side.
“It really makes it tough on a defense,” Cornelison said of the Lady Bobcats’ ball movement. “You just can’t rotate that quickly.”
Depending on Saturday’s outcome, the Lady Bobcats will be a 1 or 2 seed in next week’s 4A North Regional Tournament at Morrilton and will play a first-round game at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, or 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21.