Melbourne wins back-t0-back titles with win over Quitman
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.
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“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.
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.”
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 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.