2A State Title Game: Quitman vs. Melbourne

March 12, 2020

2A STATE FINALS COVERAGE SPONSORED BY 

GAME STORY: Melbourne wins back-to-back titles

QUITMAN: Shooting woes cost Bulldogs in title game

MELBOURNE: Back-to-Back titles for the Bearkatz

FREE PHOTO GALLERY: 2A State Championship

VIDEO CLIPS: Melbourne Quitman

MELBOURNE POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE (By Billy Smallwood)

QUITMAN POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE (By Billy Smallwood)

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‘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.

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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.

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.  

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PHOTO GALLERY: Quitman vs. Melbourne

March 12, 2020

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(Note: The watermark does not appear on downloaded photos. Also, only game photos from the 2A Senior Girls State Championship are free to download for personal use. When possible, please credit Philip Seaton/MarkedTime.com on social media use. No newspaper/media or commercial use allowed for these photos without permission.)

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Back-to-Back titles for Bearkatz

March 12, 2020

By PHILIP SEATON

HOT SPRINGS — Could the Melbourne Bearkatz senior girls basketball team win four state titles in a row?

That question was posed to Melbourne coach Eric Teague shortly after his team won its second consecutive 2A state title on Thursday with a 47-28 victory at Bank of OZK Arena.

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Normally that might seem like a far-fetched question, considering that Teague’s team hasn’t “three-peated” yet, but looking at the Bearkatz roster it is not hard to imagine that Melbourne might be able to accomplish that rare feat — the last senior girls team to do that was Fort Smith Northside from 1999-2002.

“It’s possible,” Teague said. “Anything’s possible. Maybe that will help us for next year.”

The Bearkatz coach said his team already has the experience having the “target on our backs.”

“I am sure these kids can tell you … every team we played they gave us everything they had,” Teague said. “I think that’s what put us over the top at the end of the year. We faced so much adversity with teams coming in during the first quarter, the first half giving everything they had. Our kids just kept getting better and they would absorb everything that those other teams brought at them; and I really think that was the difference tonight.”

Melbourne started one senior, two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman.

NICE MOVE: Melbourne’s last state tournament loss came on March 3, 2018 with a 63-40 setback in the 3A state tournament semifinals in Monticello. Since then the Arkansas Activities Association re-adjusted the conferences eliminating the 7A in all sports, except football, and moving some schools down for sports other than football — for example, Melbourne competes in class 3A for football and 2A in other sports.

Since that move the Bearkatz have gone 64-6 with two state titles.

MVP: Melbourne’s Kenley McCarn was named the game’s most valuable player. The sophomore, daughter of Melbourne football coach Kevin McCarn, finished with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

“This year I think we all knew we were going to have to step up more often,” McCarn said in comparing the 2019 title with the won on Thursday. “We did everything as a team. Our points were even across the board and that really helps. “

Teauge played eight off his 15-player roster with seven of those scoring.

Melbourne freshman Jenna Lawrence drives to the basket against Quitman’s Lucy Holland. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

FRESHMAN: Ninth-grader Jenna Lawrence paced the Melbourne with 11 points. The 6-foot-2 post player also finished with seven blocked shots and tied for the team lead with two assists.

TOUGH DECEMBER: Melbourne only lost two games all season and both of those losses came one-week apart in December.

The first loss came to 6A Bentonville, the top-ranked team in the state, on December 21 with a 55-31 setback in the Malik Monk Nike Holiday Classic in Bentonville. One week later in the semifinals of the Pine and White Classic Tournament in Springfield, Missouri, the second-ranked team in Oklahoma, Classen SAS High School of Oklahoma City, defeated Melbourne, 62-40.

“I learned how tough they were,” Melbourne coach Eric Teague said. “That experience allowed them to open up, listen to me a little more and trust me, because we got wore out a couple of times, to really good teams.

“I did that on purpose. I wanted us to open our eyes and see ‘what are our weaknesses?’ ‘how good are we?’ I really think that helped us to start building the blocks to get here because we understood … we weren’t playing as a team.”

The Bearkatz closed the season by winning their final 24 games.

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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

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Photo Gallery: Last Chance Senior High Relays at Heber Springs

April 19, 2019

https://philip-seaton.pixpa.com/site/last-chance-senior-high-track-meet-at-heber-springs/showcase126

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Photo Gallery: Melbourne vs. Spring Hill Senior Girls Basketball at 2A State Tournament at Carlisle

March 1, 2019

https://philip-seaton.pixpa.com/site/melbourne-vs-spring-hill-senior-girls-basketball-at-2a-state-tournament-at-carlisle/showcase78

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