Shooting woes cost Bulldogs in title game

The Quitman Lady Bulldogs pose with the state runner-up trophy on Thursday in Hot Springs. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 12, 2020

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

HOT SPRINGS — One of Quitman’s major strengths — outside shooting — didn’t materialize in the Class 2A girls’ state tournament basketball game at the Bank  OZK Arena Thursday.

The Lady Bulldogs made 10-of-43 shots (23.3 percent), 2-of-18 3-pointers (11.1 percent), in the 47-28 loss to Melbourne.

2A STATE FINALS COVERAGE SPONSORED BY 

Quitman started the game by hitting 4-of-20 (1-of-9 3-pointers) during the first half. Hooten voiced concerned earlier this week of Melbourne’s height affecting his team’s shooting efficiency.

“We didn’t shoot up to our capability,” he said. “Maybe, it was the bright lights, but Melbourne needs to be credited from sticking with us. We had a lot of shooting difficulty. Melbourne’s size affected us. They always had a hand in our face.”

Quitman’s Lucy Holland. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Senior post Lucy Holland led the Lady Bulldogs with 14 points and all of the team’s points during the first quarter. Holland made 5-of-14 shots (1-of-2 3-pointers) and had seven rebounds.

Players also dealt with the possibility of cancellation of the game because of the COVIDA-19 virus and suspension of spring sports by the Arkansas Activities Association until March 30.

“We found out right before the game that the virus may cancel softball and track and field,” Holland said. “We knew this may be our last chance to play. That helped to motivate us, but we tried not to think about it much. The possibility of not playing again also gave us motivation to play until the final second.”

A majority of the players also play softball and won back-to-back state championships. They also are the nucleus of the track and field team that competes at a high level.

But basketball was the No. 1 concern during the game. Holland did yoeman work on the boards with five of her seven rebounds on the defensive end.

The taller Lady Bearkatz held a 31-28 rebounding advantage against Quitman.

“Even if you are smaller, you can’t be thinking that way,” she said. “You can’t think that way when going up against someone taller. It may be a disadvantage, but it can be an advantage for your teammates. You can pass out to one of the guards on the perimeter.”

The Quitman seniors, from left, Haley Trawick, Gracie Smith, Lanny Goff, Autumn Johnson, Erin Stephens, Lucy Holland, Halle Bennett, and Carson Rackley. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Holland also talked about not changing her shot, even against a taller opponent.

“You can’t alter your shot because you get off rhythm,” he said. “You have to keep doing what you want to do.”

The seniors compiled a 126-18 record, four conference and regional championships and three state final appearances.

“We hope the program’s success continues,” Hooten said. “These girls set the bar very high. We don’t say we are rebuilding, but reloading. We intend to be back here (to state final) next year.”

Please follow and like us:

Quitman continues five-year run of dominance

Quitman senior Lanny Goff celebrates in the first half of the 2A state semifinal game on Saturday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 11, 2020

By PHILIP SEATON

To say the Quitman girls basketball program is experiencing a run of success would be an understatement. 

Over the past five seasons, Quitman has won an eye-popping 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 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.

“Six-years ago Quitman wasn’t even on the map as an athletic school,” Quitman coach Tim Hooten said. “Right now I think we are really making huge strides. 

“In cross country, we have won three championships in the past three years. We are going back to the finals and hopefully be in the position to bring home another basketball, but Melbourne will have a lot to say about that.” 

Hooten says that the championships build off each other.

“Our girls program is at the top level right now,” Hooten said.

EARLE: Quitman has faced Earle in the state tournament the past four seasons with the teams splitting four games. Last season, Earle ended Quitman’s season last year with a 70-58 setback in the 2A quarterfinals at Carlisle  and prevented the Bulldogs from repeating as state champions in 2018 with a 48-43 decision in the finals.  

Quitman coach Tim Hooten

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.

“We knocked them out when we won it,” Hooten said on Saturday. “They got us the last two years. We had a lot to prove here to get back at them. We really wanted to redeem ourselves because we played horrible last year. We didn’t get shots we should have. Our defense was not as good as it was tonight. To hold Earle to 28 points, that’s a defensie accomplishment.”

RUBBER MATCH: Melbourne handed Quitman its first loss of the season back on November 21 with a 59-43 decision at the First Service Bank Classic in Clinton. Quitman would defeat the host in the third-place game while Melbourne would go on to beat 6A Springdale Har-Ber for the tournament title. “I think we are a totally different team now,” Hooten said.

PATH TO THE TITLE GAME: Quitman defeated Hector (84-45), Marmaduke (71-37) and Earle (40-28) in the semifinals while Melbourne downed Fordyce (67-27), Bigelow (54-38) and Des Arc (68-54) to punch its ticket to Hot Springs.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS: Fans may purchase tickets for the Class 2A girls’ state basketball tournament until 1 p.m. Thursday at Quitman High School. Quitman will play defending state champion Melbourne at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Hot Springs Convention Center. Cost is $8. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

COMMUNITY PEP RALLY/SEND-OFF:  A community pep rally will start at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the old gym. The team will leave for Hot Springs around 3:15, according to the school’s Facebook page They will start at First Baptist Church and make their way through town around 3:15 p.m.

VIDEO: Final seconds and buzzer celebration

Please follow and like us: