PEARCY -- Lake Hamilton's senior high girls' basketball team withstood a fourth-quarter run by Hot Springs on Friday for a 44-32 5A-South conference victory at Wolf Arena.
The Lady Wolves (16-6, 9-2) took a 33-18 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Lady Trojans (11-10, 7-4) scored the first nine points of the frame. Senior Kiah Beauford hit a 3-pointer and a runner. Sophomore Jaylia Reed added a free throw and a three-point play to make it 33-27 midway through the final quarter.
"We started attacking, getting after it on defense a little better and trying to finally just play basketball," said Hot Springs head girls' basketball coach Josh Smith. "We were skittish the whole first half.
"I thought we decided we needed to shoot the ball. I tell the girls, 'You're open by design.' Either I design it, or the other team designs it. We were open from the outside, and we kept taking shots from the outside that we didn't need to take. We had to try to pick our poison and try to pick our times to attack, and we didn't do those things."
Lake Hamilton head girls' basketball coach Blake Condley said he felt his team took some quick shots early in the quarter that helped Hot Springs gain momentum. Senior forward Morgan Fincham ended the run with a jumper at the 3:52 mark as the Lady Wolves outscored the visitors, 11-5, the rest of the way.
"After that, I thought we settled down, started moving the ball, playing like we had a lead and getting the ball down around the basket trying to score easy ones," Condley said.
"We are not going to stop shooting and stop attacking trying to score, but we want to be smart with it whenever we get it in there. After a couple of possessions, I thought the girls did that. They listened and executed what we wanted to."
Reed fouled out a minute later as Hot Springs' leading scorer with 12 points. Beauford also had 10 points.
Senior Jenny Peake was 5-for-6 at the free throw line in the final three minutes and sophomore Tia Mullenix added a pair at the 2:21 mark. A steal and a layup by senior Nya Moody made it 41-27 with 2:03 left to play.
Condley said the Lady Wolves focused on defending the post. They led, 8-6, after the first quarter but won the second quarter, 16-3, for a 24-9 lead at halftime.
"We know we may give up a little size, not just to Hot Springs, but to some other folks," Condley said. "So, we have really been working on backside help and pressuring the ball to make it hard for them to see in there.
"We were praising our post players and their defense because they did a phenomenal job making sure we maintained contact and tried to stay around. Then, our backside help was coming when they tried to make a lob or tried to make an entry pass. I felt like we always had bodies around those post players down inside."
Hot Springs 6-0 senior center Bre Collins was limited to two points, opening the second half with a basket to make it 24-11.
"They know we want to feed the post," Smith said. "They doubled down, and we couldn't get there. We just couldn't get in a rhythm early and got in foul trouble early with just about everybody it seemed.
"Chalk it up to what they did. Give them credit because they showed up ready to play. They knew what this game meant. I don't think our group did."
Lake Hamilton shot 74 percent, 17-for-23, at the free throw line. Hot Springs made 7 of 11 for 63.6 percent.
Peake led all scorers with 20 points. Mullenix and Moody finished with nine and six points, respectively, while sophomore Aspen Thornton scored seven points.
Hot Springs is tied for third in the conference with Benton (14-10, 7-4) and El Dorado (16-7, 7-4) with three games remaining in the regular season. Only the top four teams in each conference in Class 5A will advance to the state tournament at Wolf Arena.
The Lady Trojans next host Benton on Tuesday with a road game on Friday at second-place Sheridan (20-3, 8-3).
"It's still next game mentality," Smith said. "You've got three tough games left. We have to go take care of business on Tuesday at home against Benton.
"You have to put this one behind you. This one is over. We have to go to work on Sunday and Monday and get prepared for a really good defensive team in Benton that is going to do the same thing Lake Hamilton did. They are going to pack it in, and we have to find different ways to score."
Hot Springs will end the regular season at home on Feb. 19 against Lakeside (18-6, 5-6), which may need to win out to jump from sixth in the conference into a postseason spot. The Lady Rams won the first matchup, 37-34, in overtime on Jan. 25 at the Lakeside Athletic Complex.
Lake Hamilton is scheduled for its last road game of the season on Tuesday at El Dorado. The Lady Wolves will finish the regular season with home games against Texarkana (9-16, 1-10) and Benton.
"We said we did not want to rely on anybody else," Condley said. "We want to control our own destiny. We want to win these games and take care of it ourselves, not rely on someone else to win a game for us.
"I feel like we have done that up until now. We've got three left. We've got a big one Tuesday night. It will be our last road game. We will be here at Lake Hamilton Wolf Arena for the rest of the season unless we can get to the convention center right at the end."Sports on 02/10/2019
Print Headline: Lake Hamilton stymies Hot Springs attack at Wolf Arena