It had been since December 8 since the Arkadelphia freshman Lady Badgers won basketball game.
Lately, a six-game losing streak had demoralized the team and frustrated freshman Lady Badgers head basketball coach Mandy Stephenson.
Earlier that morning, as Stephenson told it, when Kailyn Rook-Sims woke up she had a feeling the Lady Badgers were going to win. On Tuesday night, Rook-Sims’ made her prediction come true by scoring 12 points, including 10-of-12 at the free throw line, in a 28-19 win over visiting Ashdown at Badgers Fieldhouse.
“Kailyn was on a mission tonight,” Stephenson said. “I told the team that they listened about 90 percent of the time and they blocked out better. They all wanted it and it showed.”
As far as the district tournament is concerned, the Lady Badgers now have defeated Nashville and Ashdown, and both wins came from the free throw line. Arkadelphia made 11 of 15 free throws against Nashville and put in 18 of 24 free throws against Ashdown on Tuesday night.
“They said it puts them back on a winning streak,” Stephenson said. “I told them to pass and work the ball around, but only a few of them understand that we were trying to run some time off the clock and they shot the ball when we didn’t need to. But they blocked out, because they were listening.”
Rook-Sims put the Lady Badgers in front with two free throws after Ashdown had put in one to start the game. Ashdown added two more from the line in a physical contest during the early stages of the first quarter. Ashari Whitaker put in a basket for Arkadelphia and Kinley Green hit a 15-foot jump shot for a 6-3 lead. Ashdown made two more free throws and hit a basket at the buzzer to take a 7-6 lead by the end of the first period.
Ashdown got the ball to begin the second quarter, but missed three shots and Whitaker hauled down the rebound. Rook-Sims drove the lane and was fouled for the Lady Badgers. She stepped to the line with 4:48 left before halftime to make two free throws and tie the game.
Stephenson instituted a full-court press defense with Kyla Elgas at the point and forced six Ashdown turnovers in a row.
“The press was effective, because they were running it right,” Stephenson said.
After putting in the tying free throws, Rook-Sims made a steal and was fouled again. She sank two more free throws to put the Lady Badgers in front by two points. Elgas picked off an Ashdown pass on the inbounds and was fouled.
Elgas made one of two free throws and Whitaker came up with a steal and passed to Elgas, who was fouled again. Elgas made both free throws for a 12-7 Arkadelphia lead with 4:03 left before halftime. After Ashdown got one free throw with 2:52 to go for its first points of the period, Rook-Sims made two more free throws. The press continued to work for the Lady Badgers with Elgas getting another steal and Rook-Sims hitting three of the next four free throws she shot to put Arkadelphia ahead 17-10.
Elgas put in two free throws in the final 10 seconds and Ashdown made its last shot of the period at the buzzer to cut the Lady Badgers lead down to seven points, 19-12.
After halftime, Ashdown, scored on its first possession then made three straight turnovers and Kinley Green hit another jump shot to put the Lady Badgers back up by seven points early in the third quarter. Olivia Lock made two free throws to make it 23-15 heading into the final period.
Lock put in two more free throws two minutes into the fourth quarter give the Lady Badgers a nine-point lead. Rook-Sims put in a basket and Lock scored after Rook-Sims made a steal to put Arkadelphia head 28-17 with 3:58 to go in the game.
Ashdown made a basket off an offensive rebound with 3:22 remaining. Neither team scored from that point on.
“This team knows I expect a lot out of the eighth-graders,” Stephenson said. “They know what they are doing. If you don’t have five out there who know what they are doing then it’s not going to work.”
Arkadelphia forced Ashdown into 24 turnovers by making 15 steals in the game. Rook-Sims had three steals and five rebounds, Whitaker added two points, four rebounds and three steals, Elgas had five points and six steals and Lock had five points and three steals for the Lady Badgers in the win.
Ashdown 50, Arkadelphia 20
The struggles continue for the Arkadelphia Badgers freshman basketball team.
On Tuesday night at Badgers Fieldhouse, visiting Ashdown ran out to a 23-3 lead and went on to take a 50-20 win over Arkadelphia.
Ernest Young put in a 3-pointer early in the first quarter for the Badgers, but Ashdown finished out the rest of the 4:14 remaining in the period with a 13-0 run to take a 16-3 lead. The freshman Panthers increased their lead to 20 points before Sammy Hawthorn made two free throws for Arkadelphia. Cody Hughes made a 3-pointer after London Cotton scored inside for the Badgers, but Ashdown continued to build its lead to 34-10 by halftime.
When Ashdown had a 29-point lead early in the third quarter, the Badgers fought back with a free throw from Lorenzo Lawson, a basket by Jayden Quarles and a three-point play from Lawson made it 41-16. Hawthorn added a basket before the period ended, but Ashdown scored three straight points to lead 46-18 by the end of the third.
The Panthers scored two baskets to start the fourth quarter and invoke the sportsmanship rule with a 50-18 lead. Latron Gulley scored the only basket of the period for Arkadelphia.