By ISAAC BOURNE | The Arkadelphian
WARREN — The Arkadelphia Lady Badgers (19-9) take the third seed for the 4A South region at state next week after a 48-39 win Saturday over the Hamburg Lady Lions (21-11).
Head coach Jonathan Klein spoke on the importance of this win: “It’s big for matchups and getting everything together,” he said. “It just means a lot to us to get that win.”
It was senior guard Amya Snowden leading scoring for the Lady Badgers, dropping 11 points on two made threes. Her senior backcourt running mate, Liyah Smith, had nine with a similar two threes. Junior forward Madison Hill picked up eight from the field, while sophomore and senior forwards Raygan Harris and Makayla Gentry both had seven in the contest.
“We work a lot on transitions [in practice] so it helps us make it easier when we get into the game, ” said Snowden. “We just like keeping up the pace and pushing the ball [down the court].”
Snowden’s ability to get out on the fastbreak quickly led to multiple transition points for her and her team, while Smith’s high basketball IQ allowed her to find open players in those situations or score for herself if she needed to.
“That’s basically what our whole year has been based around–going fast,” Smith mentioned. “It’s nothing new to us, we’ve been playing like this all year.”
The Lady Badgers’ speed on the break allowed them to jump out to a 23-8 lead to start the game and gain a large lead.
“Anytime you can get a fast start and get an early lead, it’s big for any team, but especially for the way that we want to play,” Klein said. “It ended up being the difference in the game … so it was good for us.”
After the quick start, Arkadelphia scored just four points in the second quarter after a big shooting slump, and active defense by the Lady Badgers played a big role in allowing them to keep the lead.
“We work on positioning a lot at practice,” Smith said. “Just ball position and help position … so that repetition helps us a lot in the game [on defense].”
The Lady Badgers ended their shooting slump after a 9-0 run by Hamburg that allowed the Lady Lions to get back into the game. At one point, Hamburg had the score within three before Arkadelphia could close the game.
“Responding to adversity is something we’ve talked about all year long,” said Klein. “Just having that mental toughness to respond to adversity when it strikes and to just keep fighting and dig down. They’ve done it all year and were able to do it again tonight.”
The 3-2 defense played by the Lady Lions had the Lady Badgers flustered in the second quarter before Klein was able to adjust the game plan accordingly. Smith’s ability to lead the offense was once again vital to the team’s success.
“She’s just great on both sides of the ball,” Klein remarked. “She’s a key component in our game plan and whatever we do. Just a huge part of what we do and we’d be lost without her for sure.”
On the Hamburg side, three players scoring in double figures was not enough to get them past Arkadelphia. Junior Skylar Watkins led all scorers with 12, while sophomore Za’niya Mooney had 11 and junior Brynn Davis had 10 for the Lady Lions.
With this win, the Lady Badgers will play the Southside Lady Southerners (21-5), the fourth seed from the East region, on Tuesday in the first round of the state tournament in Blytheville.