PEARCY -- Playing their first game in 12 days, the Hot Springs Lady Trojans showed no signs of rust against Pea Ridge Thursday night.
The Lady Trojans led from start to finish in a 56-31 win in the first round of the Kameron Hale Invitational at Lake Hamilton Wolf Arena.
"Being off 12 days, we used that time to get back to being ourselves and doing some stuff that we've really wanted to do all year," Hot Springs coach Josh Smith said. "We were able to do that in the first quarter, and it got us off to a comfortable lead. We were able to mix some things up to keep them off balance and use our speed."
Hot Springs (10-3) will face Centerpoint (6-4) in the second round at 4 p.m. today, with the winner advancing to Saturday's championship. The Lady Knights defeated Little Rock Hall (3-5) in the first round Thursday morning.
"It's big to get some momentum, especially when you play three straight games coming off of a long break," said Smith. "We were able to get into the bench today and not wear on each other the whole time. It helps us keep our legs for tomorrow. We will be playing a good Centerpoint team that shoots the ball really well. So we will have our hands full."
Hot Springs guard Ariana Guinn buried consecutive 3-pointers to open the game as the Lady Trojans raced to an 8-2 lead in the first quarter. After a layup by Pea Ridge's Maria Socha, Hot Springs closed the period on a 10-1 run to take a commanding 18-5 lead, Guinn leading the way with 10 points in the opening period.
"I thought we played a complete game as a team," Smith said. "Ariana came out and hit some shots from the outside, Imani (Honey) pushed the ball and Nya (Moody) was in there rebounding. All 10 or 11 kids contributed tonight."
Already with a double digit lead, the Lady Trojans broke the game open with a blistering start to the second quarter. Kiah Beauford scored four points, while Keindia Nevels, Trinitee Nevels and Guinn each scored two points as Hot Springs rode a 10-0 run to take control with a 28-5 advantage midway through the second quarter.
The Lady Trojans led by as much as 25 points before settling with a 35-12 lead at the half.
"We did our job in our half court defense in that second quarter," said Smith. "We were able to apply pressure, and it led to some turnovers and some fast break opportunities. Anytime you build a lead, you try not to get relaxed and just keep doing the things you did to get you to that point."
Guinn continued her scoring outburst with four points to open the third quarter while backcourt mate Honey flashed her playmaking ability. The senior guard dished out four assists in the third period as the Lady Trojans maintained a 46-22 lead entering the fourth quarter. Guinn led all scorers in the game with 22 points, including 18 in the first half, while Honey finished with three points and a game-high eight assists.
"Everybody feeds off of them when those two get going," Smith said. "Imani's eyes are always looking ahead, and she would rather make an assist than score points. When Ariana can step out and hit two threes to open a game, that's just momentum, and we can piggyback off of it."
With the game all but over, Hot Springs played mostly reserves in the fourth quarter, outscoring Pea Ridge 10-9 behind seven points from Beauford.
Senior guard Kiley West paced the Blackhawks with 11 points, including three shots from behind the arc, while Socha chipped in with eight points. Beauford scored 13 points for the Lady Trojans.
Pea Ridge will face Little Rock Hall in the consolation bracket at 10 a.m. today.
Sports on 12/29/2017
Print Headline: Lady Trojans shoot down Pea Ridge