Nashville falls short in repeat bid with loss to Farmington
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Farmington capped its season of redemption the exact way it intended it would Thursday afternoon.
The Lady Cardinals got a huge game from Marin Adams, but it was timely baskets late that provided the boost they needed to hold on and beat Nashville, 65-61, to win the Class 4A girls state title inside an energized Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs.
Adams collected a game-high 22 points off the bench for Farmington (35-1), which had to wait an entire year to get a chance at vindication after the way its previous season ended.
A 3-pointer from Sidney Townsend with 3.3 seconds left gave Nashville a 42-41 win in last year’s final against the Lady Cardinals, but the work Farmington put in during the rematch ensured it wouldn’t experience any last-second heartbreak.
The Lady Cardinals led 54-38 with 1:26 left in the third quarter after a driving lay-up from Adams, but they watched as the defending champions ripped off on a 14-0 run that carried over into the fourth quarter to get back in it.
However, Farmington steadied itself and survived a potential game-tying three-pointer from Shalyn Lyle with seven seconds left in the game to clinch its first championship since it shared the 2020 crown with Star City.
“To see these kids, see the hurt in their eyes for 365 days or so after last year, to know what they felt was debilitating,” Farmington coach Brad Johnson said. “But the awesome thing about them is the character and how much they love each other, how much they love their community. Just the sense of pride they took in coming back to work and fight.
“With this game, us and Nashville, we knew it might come at some point, but we never wanted to make it about revenge. Reese Shirey said it best, it was about redemption. We had a chance to come back, get on this stage and try to play our best.”
Farmington played its best when it had to in front of a crowd of 4,654 fans. The victory was the 26th in a row for the Lady Cardinals, who also got 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks from the game’s Most Valuable Player, Jenna Lawrence, a University of Arkansas signee. Shirey
ended with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals as well.
Caroline Dean scored 15 points, Lyle had 14 points, and Kyleigh Scoggins chipped in with 12 points for the Scrapperettes, who played without starting forward Aaliyah Hollins. The junior, who averaged nearly a double-double during last week’s state tournament, suffered a leg injury late in the team’s semifinal win over Gentry.
But Nashville coach Paul Dean was proud of the way his team played regardless, especially after they fell behind by 16 points in the second half.
“We’ve gotta give credit to Farmington because they made enough plays to win the game,” he explained. “At the same time, we could’ve laid down and given up, but we didn’t. We kept on fighting and competing, and the next thing you know, it’s tied up.
“We had a shot with five seconds left, a three ball, to tie it up again. So I’m proud of my team, proud of the year we had, and I regret nothing.”
Nashville got off to an ideal start when it used a blazing run and its trapping press to grab a first-quarter lead. But Farmington began to settle in during the latter half of the period and followed Adams’ lead to move ahead.
The sophomore scored six points during a quarter-ending 9-2 run that gave the Lady Cardinals a 19-14 lead. Farmington maintained that edge throughout the second period and increased its margin to 35-22 until the Scrapperettes scored five of the final seven points of the half to get within 10 by halftime.
Farmington broke loose in the third quarter and eventually built its 16-point cushion following back-toback shots from Adams only to see Nashville respond.
A jumper from Dean started an 8-0 run that cut the Lady Cardinals’ advantage to eight by the end of the quarter, and a floater from Jessie Lyle ignited a 6-0 rally at the beginning of the fourth. But Johnson noted his team remained even-keeled.
“They were tough enough to handle the moment,” Johnson said. “We sat down in the timeout, and they’re talking, they’re not panicking, not yelling, not pointing fingers. It’s ‘we got this, be secure with the ball, sit down and guard your man, get the rebound, we can win this thing,’ things like that. And you could feel it.
“There was no panic, just calmness.”
The Scrapperettes evened things up at 59-59 with 1:17 to go, but two free throws from Shirey and a stick-back from Lawrence helped afford Farmington enough breathing room to win.
“Last season didn’t go the way we wanted to, but that just gave us much more drive to win this year,” Lawrence said.
Farmington was making its fourth consecutive appearance in a state championship game. … For Nashville, the Scrapperettes were in the final for the third time since 1973. … Both teams finished with 36 rebounds each. … Nashville came up with 13 steals and scored 15 points off 18 turnovers. … Farmington made one less field goal (23) than Nashville (24) but made three more three-pointers (6 to 3) and three more free throws (13 to 10).