By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
GREERS FERRY – Tightening up the perimeter defense during the second half helped the West Side Lady Eagles to a 58-44 win against Morrilton Sacred Heart in the Class 1A state tournament quarterfinals at the Brady-Hipp Arena Saturday.
The Lady Eagles (25-8) will advance for the second straight season to the state tournament semifinals, this time against Norfork at 4 p.m. Monday. West Side lost in last year’s semifinals to Viola.
“We knew they were a good team with players who could shoot well,” Lady Eagle coach Megan Berry said. “We changed to a man defense during the second half and did a better job of defending and took charges when we had an opportunity.”
Free-throw shooting accuracy also aided the Lady Eagles, who made 23-of-27 attempts. Ashtyn Knapp made 12-of-15 free throws, while Kamryn Sutterfield connected on 5-of-6 attempts. Haley Gentry hit 6-of-6 free throws.
“We missed a couple, but we shot a good percentage,” Berry said. “Our free-throw shooting was good and important.”
Knapp led the Lady Eagles with 18 points. Sutterfield contributed 16 points and Gentry scored 15 points. Rylee Oliver had 12 points for Sacred Heart and Myisa Ibarra chipped in 11 points.
“We ran our offense better during the fourth quarter,” Berry said. “We put together a scoring run and gained momentum. We turned the ball over a few times late in the game against the full-court press, but we came back and got stops on defense.”
The lead changed six times during the first quarter, ending with Sutterfield’s 3-pointer, as West Side led 12-11 going into the second quarter. The Lady Eagles increased the lead to seven points before Sacred Heart reduced it to 28-22 by halftime.
Sacred Heart struck quickly by scoring two field goals at the start of the third quarter. Gentry answered with a 3-pointer and the Lady Eagles withstood the challenge. West Side led 35-27 going into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Eagles built a 14-point lead, but Sacred Heart showed no quit and pulled within 10 points. West Side never lost its double-digit lead for the remainder of the game.
Berry said the experience from playing in last year’s semifinal will benefit her team on Monday against Norfork.
“Most of the players have been in this position before,” she said. “Lack of experience will not be the problem. We need to come out and play well.”
Sacred Heart 11 11 15 7 –44
West Side 12 16 17 13–58
Sacred Heart scorers — Rylee Oliver 12, Myisa Ibarra 11, Halen Hoelzeman 6, Lizzy Beck 6, Emma Dold 5, Karlee Cooper 2, Anna Jones 2.
West Side scorers — Ashtyn Knapp 18, Kamryn Sutterfield 16, Haley Gentry 15, Sarah Carlton 6, Kortnee Finch 3.