El Dorado News-Times
Lady Wildcats win, Wildcats fall short to Lake Hamilton
El Dorado’s girls concluded the regular season Friday with a 63-56 win over Lake Hamilton at Wildcat Arena. The Lady Wildcats will now turn their sights on the 5A State Tournament, which begins Feb. 28 in Pine Bluff.
El Dorado’s boys saw their season end after a 72-42 loss to the Wolves.
The Lady Wildcats enjoyed a near-flawless opening quarter and half. El Dorado leaped to a 15-2 lead on Lindsey Lockhart’s three-point play with 2:47 left in the first. The margin was 20-6 after one quarter and ballooned to 32-8 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Lauren Nelson and Charalyn Rester midway in the second.
The Lady Wildcats led 38-20 at the half.
How good did the team play? El Dorado didn’t miss a free throw, shooting 11-of-11 in the opening half.
“It’s crazy because we had one of the worst practices (Thursday) that we’ve ever had the entire season,” said El Dorado coach Ashlee Curtis. “But in true Lady Cat fashion, they were resilient. They bounced back. They did everything I was asking in practice (Thursday) they did it today. Everything worked and fell into place.”
Defensively, the Lady Wildcats drew a bulls’ eye on Lake Hamilton point guard Brooklyn Braughton and hounded her 32 minutes, 94 feet. The Lady Wolves didn’t make consecutive buckets until the third quarter.
But, Lake Hamilton continued to fight and whittled a 19-point deficit with 7:14 left in the third to 43-33 at the 4:14 mark. Rester hit a free throw and then a 3-pointer for El Dorado, which led 49-38 going into the fourth after freshman Kiera McDaniel hit a 3-pointer for the
Lake Hamilton got as close as 56-50 after Braughton’s 3-pointer with 1:56 remaining. But, Lockhart laced a long 3-pointer and Rester scored in the lane to stem the tide.
Despite getting into foul trouble, Rester scored 19 points for the Lady Wildcats. Nelson added 18 and Lockhart 14.
Braylee Winfrey scored 18 for Lake Hamilton, which was eliminated from state tournament contention with the loss. Nancy Coffman and Braughton added 11 and 10, respectively.
El Dorado will have a week off to recuperate and prepare for the state tournament. The Lady Wildcats appear locked in as a three seed unless some upsets occur next week. Most of the other schools have two league games remaining.
“Like I tell the girls all the time, ‘You sit down and do what you're supposed to do, it'll be really hard to play with us.' And, they did. My girls showed up and showed out,” said Curtis.
“Huge thank you to everybody in the stands and a huge thank you to our student section, the purple pit. They showed up and showed out. We heard them all game long. It was a nice thing to see.”
In the boys' game, the Wolves started fast behind Zac Pennington, who scored the first eight points in less than 90 seconds.
Lake Hamilton led 23-15 after one quarter and 39-23 at the half. The margin was 50-29 going into the fourth.
Lake Hamilton coach Scotty Pennington described the team's performance as, “Good at times, bad at times, transition defense was not very good. But we made enough shots. We started quick. We thought that would be the key with this being their last game, without the state tournament to look forward to. We felt they would come out guns blazing to try to go out with a win. We needed to start fast and play well and I thought we did early.
“Proud about the win but we've got to do better Tuesday night at White Hall, for sure.”
Bryson Boulden led El Dorado with 11 points while Laronte McHenry scored eight.
Pennington scored 17 for the Wolves while Ty Robinson added 16. Christon Harris and Easton Hurley chipped in 12 and 11, respectively.