‘Katz bite ‘Dogs for 2A championship

Melbourne wins back-t0-back titles with win over Quitman
Quitman’s Autumn Johnson walks off the floor at the end of the 2A senior girls championship game. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 12, 2020

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

HOT SPRINGS — Melbourne’s height advantage and a tenacious full-court press defense proved too much for the Quitman Lady Bulldogs to overcome at Bank OZK Arena Thursday.

Quitman (30-4) never recovered from the second quarter and lost to defending champion Melbourne 47-28 in the Class 2A state basketball championship game.

2A STATE FINALS COVERAGE SPONSORED BY 

“We had an outstanding season,” Quitman coach Tim Hooten said. “We played a team with outstanding height and speed. We still won 30 games and kept the streak of five consecutive conference and regional championships going.”

The Lady Bulldogs stayed close during the first quarter, but Melbourne pulled away by outscoring Quitman 26-9 in the second quarter. Lucy Holland scored all of Quitman’s points during the opening quarter and finished with 14 points.

Quitman’s Erin Stephens looks to drive past Melbourne’s Kylee Humphries. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Melbourne (34-2) outscored the Lady Bulldogs 16-14 during the second half.

“We did a good job defending them during the first quarter,” Hooten said. “We took away the things from them we wanted to take way. The full-court press hurt us in the second quarter. We never recovered from the second quarter.”

Melbourne coach Eric Teague said winning back-to-back state championships was not easy.

“We started the season with a different group of players and didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “They trusted the coaches and each other.”

Jenna Lawrence led Melbourne with 11 points and blocked seven shots.

“Both teams were nervous at the beginning of the game,” Teague said. “We needed to let game come to us in the first quarter. I told them between quarters they hadn’t played well and they need to pick up their play. Our full-court press and by making 3-pointers helped us to the lead in the second quarter. We did a better job of challenging Quitman.”

Melbourne’s Josie Roark goes up for a shot against Quitman’s Carson Rackley. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Holland became the first player to score as she drove, drew a foul and made the shot with 3:54 left in the first quarter. She sank the free throw to complete the three-point play.

Kenley McCarn and Dani Hardaway answered by making 3-pointers and Melbourne never trailed again. Holland hit 2-of-2 free throws as the Lady Bearkatz led 6-5 going into the second quarter.

McCaron started the second quarter by making a 3-pointer. Holland kept Quitman close by making 2-of-2 free throws, reducing Melbourne’s lead to 10-9. The Lady Bearkatz broke the game open on a 22-5 scoring run and built a 32-14 halftime lead.

Melbourne’s Kenley McCarn was named the state finals MVP. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Melbourne increased its lead to 44-21 by the end of the third quarter.

“We felt a target on our back this year after winning it last season,” Teague said. “Every team gave us everything they had. We kept getting better and I knew it would help us to get back to the state final. That was one of the big differences against Quitman.”

Melbourne lost back-to-back games to Bentonville and Classen SAS from Oklahoma City, the second-ranked team in that state, in late December. Teague said that was a turning point for his team.

“Those experiences taught them to listen and trust more,” Teague said. “We lost to two good teams and learned our weaknesses.”

CLASS 2A SENIOR GIRLS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
QUITMAN VS. MELBOURNE
March 12, 2020
at Bank OZK Arena, Hot Springs
Quitman (30-4)   5  9 7  7 - 28
Melbourne (34-2) 6 26 12 3 - 47
QUITMAN SCORING (28): Lucy Holland 14, Taylor Hooten 6, Halle Bennett 5, Autumn Johnson 3.
MELBOURNE SCORING (47): Jenna Lawrence 11, Kenley McCarn 8, Dani Hardaway 8, Kiley Webb 6, Halle Weaver 6, Josie Roark 5, Kylee Humphries 3.
QUITMAN STATISTICS: Autumn Johnson 2 rebounds; Halle Bennett 4 rebounds, 3 steals; Taylor Hooten 3 rebounds, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Lucy Holland 7 rebounds; 4 rebounds; Carson Rackley 1 assist, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal; Erin Stephens 1 rebound, 1 steal; Gracie Smith 1 rebound; Haley Trawick 2 rebounds.
MELBOURNE STATISTICS: Kiley Webb 3 rebounds, 1 assist; Dani Hardaway 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals; Josie Roark 5 rebounds, 1 assist; Jenna Lawrence 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 7 blocked shots, 1 steal; Kenley McCarn 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals; Halle Weaver 1 rebound, 1 blocked shot.  

Please follow and like us:

‘Katz versus Dogs for 2A title

Quitman, Melbourne to tangle in Hot Springs for championship
Quitman senior Autumn Johnson looks drive to the basketball against Earle on Saturday in the 2A semifinals at Quitman. The Bulldogs will face Melbourne today in Hot Springs for the 2A state title. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 12, 2020

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

QUITMAN — Playing for the Class 2A state championship is becoming  an almost every year event for the Quitman Lady Bulldogs.

The Lady Bulldogs, who advanced for the third time in the last four seasons, will play defending state champion Melbourne at 6 p.m. Thursday in the state final at the Bank OZK Arena.

Quitman (30-3) defeated Hector in the 2017 final and lost to Earle in 2018. Melbourne (33-2) won last year’s championship with a win against Riverside.

“This will be different from last week as we must wait almost a week to play,” Lady Bulldog coach Tim Hooten said. “Sometimes, it’s anticlimactic,  but we have to build back to last week’s level of play.”

Quitman lost to Melbourne 59-43 in November, but Hooten said that game will not affect Thursday’s matchup.

“We are aware of how good Melbourne’s posts are and they are two players deep at all five positions,” Hooten said. “We have quickness and speed, and hope to take advantage of it. We are a different team and not look back at the last time we played Melbourne. Records are meaningless now. It’s a one-game season.”


Melbourne’s Josie Roark

Sophomore Kenlee McCarn is one of the Melbourne players to watch, along with Jenna Lawrence. Kiley Webb runs the show at point guard. Josie Roark and Halle Weaver round out the starters.

“There is a lot of excitement,” Melbourne head coach Eric Teague said when asked about the atmosphere since Saturday’s semifinal win against Des Arc. “Winning the state tournament last year was exciting. It has been a tough year and we got every team’s best shot. We are excited about Thursday’s (today) game against Quitman.”

Melbourne has won 23 consecutive games with the last loss to  Classen SAS from Oklahoma City in December. The Lady Bearkatz’ other loss came to Class 6A Bentonville, also in December. Melbourne averages 59 points a game and held opponents to 37 points.

“Defense is the strongest part of our team,” Hooten said. “We will use a full-court press and try and not let them get down the floor easily. We don’t have the size to battle inside. We will rely on  our speed and quickness.”

Teague expects a tough game and hopes playing for the second straight year in the state final will benefit the Lady Bearkatz.

“We hope to be more settled than last year,” he said. “Quitman has a great team and is the hottest team right now in Class 2A.”

Quitman, which has won five regional tournament titles, will put a nine-game winning streak on the line. The Lady Bulldogs’ last loss came at home to Mount Vernon-Enola. Quitman lost to Melbourne and Mountain View in November.

Who wins the 2A Girls State Title

  • Melbourne (57%, 4 Votes)
  • Quitman (43%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

Loading ... Loading ...

Senior guards Autumn Johnson and Halle Bennett start on the perimeter, with sophomore Taylor Hooten at point guard. Seniors Lucy Holland and Carson Rackley are the posts.

Holland said the team is confident and the earlier loss to Melbourne was forgotten a long time ago.

“You can’t go into a game scare about what happened last time,” she said. “Every game is new. “Our past state tournament experience will help because we know what it is like to win and also know what it is like to lose it. The nerves will still be there, but we don’t want to lose again.”

Rackley also agreed that the Lady Bulldogs will be ready for the matchup against Melbourne.

“I didn’t even score in that game and expect to play better,” she said. “Playing Melbourne once helped in preparation, but the disadvantage for them is we won’t play the same way as last time. We know what we must do to win.”

Quitman’s team average almost mirror Melbourne. The Lady Bulldogs average 60 points and held their opponents to 38 points.

Hooten said one of the keys for Quitman will be how effective it can make outside shots.

“We must have a good outside shooting game,” he said. “They are so big inside, but we are going have to score some on the inside. If we do that, it will help keep the game closer and puts us in position to win.”

Teague agreed that the game will be determined the outcome of Quitman’s speed against Melbourne’s size.

“We must protect the ball and not turn it over against Quitman’s fullcourt press,” he said. “We also must limited Quitman to one shot. We need to slow them down and not let them overwhelm us with their speed.”

Quitman won two championships in other sports last year, and Hooten hopes it carries over to the school’s second basketball title.

“These girls work to win in every sport,” he said. “We won the state cross country championship and the last two softball titles. Winning can become a habit. They know what it takes to win.”

CLASS 2A SENIOR GIRLS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP CAPSULE
QUITMAN (30-3) VS MELBOURNE (33-2)
WHEN: 6 p.m. tonight 
WHERE: at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs
TELEVISION: PBS (Statewide over the air, cable). Pregame 5:57 p.m. Tipoff 6:05 p.m.
RADIO: KABZ 103.7 "The Buzz: (Statewide). Listen Live Link
MELBOURNE BEARKATZ
STATE TITLES (2): 1973, 2019
COACH: Eric Teague
PROBABLE STARTERS: Guard Kenley McCarn (5-9, Sophomore), Guard Kiley Webb (5-3, Junior), Guard Josie Roark (5-6, Junior), Guard Halle Weaver (5-6, Junior) Forward Dani Hardaway (5-7, Senior) and/or Post Jenna Lawrence (6-2, Freshman)
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Melbourne downed Fordyce (67-27), Bigelow (54-38) and Des Arc (68-54) at 2A state tournament in Quitman to advance to finals  
BEARKATZ NOTES: Melbourne is the defending 2A state champion and on a 23-game winning streak ... Lost three key players off last season's championship team in seniors Halle Cooper and Shelby Morris, and 2019 state title game most valuable player Reagan Rapert, who transferred to Union, Missouri, for her junior season ... Melbourne defeated Quitman, 59-43, in the semifinals of the Clinton First Service Bank Tournament on November 21. The Bearkatz would defeat 6A Springdale Har-Ber for the title ... Melbourne's only losses this season were at Bentonville (55-31) on  December 21 and to Oklahoma City Classen SAS (62-40) on December 28 on a neutral floor ... The Bearkatz are 90-13 over the past three season (87.4 percent) and 39-2 in conference play over that same period ... Melbourne competes in 3A for football and 2A for other sports ... Melbourne also won the state overall title in 1973 (until that tournament was discontinued in 1992) ... Melbourne won both the 2A-3 conference and district titles ... has only two seniors on roster.
QUITMAN BULLDOGS
STATE TITLES (1): 2017
COACH: Tim Hooten
PROBABLE STARTERS: Guard Halle Bennett (5-4, Senior), Guard Autumn Johnson (5-4, Senior), Guard Taylor Hooten (5-3, Sophomore), Post Lucy Holland (5-8, Senior) and Post Carson Rackley (5-8, Senior) 
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Quitman defeated Hector (84-45), Marmaduke (71-37) and Earle (40-28) to punch ticket to today's title game. 
BULLDOG NOTES: Quitman is on a nine-game winning streak ... The Bulldogs only losses this season are at Mount Vernon-Enola (57-51) on February 11 to Mountain View (54-24) on November 22 and to Melbourne (59-43) on November 21 ... Quitman has eight seniors on the roster ... Quitman defeated Earle, 49-44, in the semifinals on its way to claiming the 2017 state title while the Bulldogs punched their ticket to the finals this season with a 40-28 win on Saturday, both of those wins came at Quitman ... Over the past five seasons, Quitman has won 88.8 percent of the games it has played. The Bulldogs have a record of 155-20 over that stretch, an average of 31 wins per season. They have also have a record of 61-2 in conference play over that same stretch, and won five district and five regional championships. On the biggest stage, the state tournament, Quitman is 12-3 in the state tournament with a state title in 2017 and a runner-up finish in 2018 ... The track team has also won a state championship in 2017, the cross country team has state titles in three consecutive seasons while the softball team is coming off back-to-back state titles ... Quitman competes in the 2A-5 North conference ... The Bulldogs are 2A members of all sports.

Please follow and like us: