Farmington tops Lady Bobcats for district tournament title
By Scott Loftis
The Berryville Lady Bobcats didn’t bring home the championship trophy from the 4A-1 district tournament, losing to Farmington 68-58 in Saturday’s championship game at Goblin Arena.
But that doesn’t mean the sky is falling for the Lady Bobcats. Their season is still alive as they’ll open play on Thursday as a No. 2 seed in the 4A North Regional Tournament at Morrilton. Berryville (26-3) will face the host team, Morrilton, at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We wanted to win a district title,” Berryville coach Daniel Cornelison said. “It was a letdown that we didn’t. But everyone knows the top four teams in our conference are pretty good and if you don’t play your best on a given day, any one of them can beat you. … You live to fight another day.”
Berryville beat Farmington handily earlier this season on a night when the Lady Cardinals didn’t shoot the ball well. Saturday was a different story as Farmington made seven three-pointers and took advantage of nine missed free throws by the Lady Bobcats.
“I think it was a combination of them playing really well and us not playing our best,” Cornelison said.
Berryville had some early momentum, taking a 14-12 lead when junior guard Lexy Anderson scored off a pass from senior forward Hannah Morrell after an inbounds play. Morrell followed with a layup after an assist from sophomore guard Lilli Compton. Anderson then passed to senior guard Baylea Smith for another basket, and senior guard McKayla Hussey made a three-pointer to cap the 9-2 run and give the Lady Bobcats a 21-14 lead.
Farmington fought back, however, outscoring the Lady Bobcats 12-4 over the remainder of the second quarter. Sophomore forward Tori Kersey scored the final basket, giving the Lady Cardinals a 26-25 halftime lead.
Berryville never caught up in the second half, although the Lady Bobcats stayed within one point until Farmington senior Madisyn Pence hit a three-pointer for a 36-32 lead. Another three-pointer, by junior guard Makenna Vanzant, and a three-point play by senior Alexis Roach, stretched the lead to 44-34.
Needing a score to get back within striking distance, Berryville missed four consecutive free throws before Vanzant dropped in a long three-pointer to give Farmington a 13-point cushion at 47-34.
Berryville got within nine points twice in the fourth quarter, first when Compton hit a three-pointer to cut Farmington’s lead to 54-45 and later when she made the second of two free throws for a 58-49 deficit with 2:29 left.
Farmington closed out the victory with solid free-throw shooting, however. The Lady Cardinals made 10 of 12 free throws over the final 2:29 to clinch the tournament title.
Kersey and Vanzant led Farmington with 15 points apiece. Morrell scored a game-high 17 points for Berryville. Senior forward Kelcee Hopper added 14 and Anderson scored 13 for the Lady Bobcats.
Now, Berryville prepares to face the host team in the first round of the regional tournament. Cornelison said Morrilton (19-7) will present a challenge, especially on the Lady Devil Dogs’ home floor.
“They’ve got a really good post player,” Cornelison said, referring to 5-11 senior Tamia Templeton. “Their offense runs through her.”
Berryville has plenty of postseason experience, but Cornelison would be happier if that experience wasn’t about to include playing a regional tournament host on their home floor.
“I don’t think there’s any question that the team that got the toughest first-round draw at this regional was the Berryville Lady Bobcats,” Cornelison said.