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The Sentinel-Record/Mandie Gober UP FOR TWO: Hot Springs senior guard Imani Honey takes the ball to the hoop in Tuesday's 45-34 win over cross-town rival Lakeside at Lakeside Athletic Complex.

The Sentinel-Record/Mandie Gober UP FOR TWO: Hot Springs senior guard Imani Honey takes the ball to the hoop in Tuesday's 45-34 win over cross-town rival Lakeside at Lakeside Athletic Complex.

Hot Springs uses late run to down Lady Rams

By ZACH PARKER The Sentinel-Record
This article was published December 6, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

Lakeside made things interesting Tuesday night, but the Hot Springs Lady Trojans proved they are still the team to beat in the crosstown rivalry.

Trailing 29-26 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Hot Springs erupted for a 17-0 run and pulled away for their eighth straight win in the series in a 45-34 thriller at Lakeside Athletic Complex.

"We faced a lot of adversity tonight, and it took us a while to adjust to it," Hot Springs coach Josh Smith said. "Hats off to Lakeside; they had a great gameplan, and they held us at bay as long as they possibly could. We finally got the right combination of girls out there in the fourth quarter. We got some key stops, made some quick layups and were able to attack their defense."

The Lady Rams built a 20-14 lead in the first half and maintained a 27-26 advantage after three quarters despite a third-quarter surge from Hot Springs. After two quick free throws by Thea Rice to open the fourth, Lakeside's offense went stagnant.

The Lady Trojans had five steals to spark the 17-point run, but by the time Lakeside recovered, the game was out of reach. Rice snapped the Lady Trojan run with a layup and 3-point basket, but the deficit proved too much to overcome.

"We started trying to force too much instead of staying steady there at the end," Lakeside coach Chris Brock said. "That's not a team that you're going to break down quick, so you need to keep the ball for a longer period of time. We didn't execute as well there as we did in the first quarter."

Hot Springs opened the game on a 7-2 run, including a 3-pointer by Nya Moody, but the Lady Rams answered with a 7-2 run of their own to take a 9-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Ashton Patrick scored four points in the opening period for Lakeside, while Rice, Abby Mahoney and Chloe Porter each scored two.

The Lady Trojans got five quick points in the second, but Patrick buried a trey to close the period and the Lady Rams took a 20-14 lead into halftime. Resigned to the bench after picking up two early fouls, Hot Springs guard Imani Honey was held to just three points in the first half.

"She was so active early and I was afraid that she would pick up that other (foul), so we went ahead and sat her down," said Smith. "It put some other girls in positions they haven't been in, but that's something good for us to see. Hopefully we'll learn from it."

Lakeside stretched its lead to 23-16 early in the third quarter before the Lady Trojans started to heat up. Moody connected on her second shot from behind the arc, and Honey turned a steal into two easy points as part of an 8-0 Hot Springs run.

The Lady Rams maintained a 27-26 lead entering the final frame, but the Lady Trojans wouldn't stay down for long.

"They hit a couple of big shots and took all the momentum from us," Brock said. "Our offensive execution in the second half wasn't as patient as it was in the first. I thought we also did a lot better job rebounding in the first half than we did late in the game."

After Rice's foul shots to open the fourth quarter, an unlikely source sparked a blistering run for the Lady Trojans. Not known for scoring prowess, senior Trinitee Nevels scored six points during the team's 17-0 run, finishing the game with 10 points.

"She was the difference in the game," said Smith. "Our team is a team that relies on runs, and she was able to get some easy baskets for us to start a run. If I gave out a game ball, it would go to Trinitee Nevels."

Hot Springs led by as much as 43-29 in the fourth quarter before Rice set the final margin with five points for the Lady Rams.

Honey paced the Lady Trojans with 13 points and backcourt mate Ariana Guinn added eight despite facing constant defensive pressure. Rice led Lakeside with 13 points while Mahoney finished with eight points.

The Lady Rams dropped to 7-2 on the season and resume conference play Dec. 15 against visiting Lake Hamilton.

"Some time off is going to be good," Brock said. "We're a little beat up; we've got some injuries that you're going to have after playing so many games in that time, and we've got to go back to work on us."

Hot Springs improved to 5-0 before facing Jacksonville in the Conway Wampus Cat tournament Thursday night.

"We've got three games this week, but this was a great way to start it off," said Smith. "Now we'll come back to work and get ready to face some good teams in Conway. We'd love an opportunity to play some of those teams, just to say we were there and go compete and see what we can do."

Sports on 12/06/2017
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