Junior Lady Bearkatz too much for Calico Rock
Most junior-high basketball teams either hang their hats on good outside shooting or they rely on a strong post game.
Rarely are junior-high basketball teams blessed with both good outside shooting and a strong game in the paint area.
However, the Melbourne junior Lady Bearkatz are not like most junior-high basketball teams.
They are more like a finely-tuned machine, stocked with an outside and inside offensive game, than they are a group of eighth- and ninth-graders still learning all the fine points of basketball.
And the junior Lady Katz (26-1) proved this ten-fold, rolling to a 53-21 victory over Calico Rock in the championship game of the 1A-2 South Junior High District Tournament Feb. 10 at the Bearkatz Den in Melbourne.
After blasting their way through the regular season, suffering just one setback along the way, a loss to the high-powered Cave City junior Cavewomen in the finals of the Screamin' Eagle Junior High Tournament, the junior Lady Bearkatz were looking to add the district tournament crown to their 1A-2 South regular-season championship.
The junior Lady Pirates, runners-up to Melbourne in the conference this year, are not exactly newcomers to the sport of basketball, but Calico Rock was just simply outgunned by the junior Lady Bearkatz in the district tourney finals.
Maggie Cooper (15 points) started Melbourne off with a layup, but Calico Rock took an early 3-2 lead on a 3-ball by Brittany Fountain (10 points).
That would be the junior Lady Pirates' sole lead of the night.
Melbourne ripped off the next 10 points to establish total control before the first period was even five minutes old.
Cooper got loose for back-to-back hoops to start the run for Melbourne, while Kaylee Ables (10 points) added a pair of hoops in the spurt.
Courtney Lester quelled the Melbourne run with a jumper, but Kenzi Gillihan (17 points) scored the last three points of the frame to push Melbourne on top 15-5 after one.
Getting most of their points in the lane in the first period, the junior Lady Katz moved outside the arc to start the second, as Gillihan jacked a pair of triples to get things rolling for Melbourne in the second.
Calico Rock had trouble with Melbourne's full-court press, making scoring opportunities rare for the junior Lady Pirates.
Using a deadly 9-0 run, the junior Lady Bearkatz extended their lead to 27-7 with 2:43 left until the half.
Fountain notched her second trey of the game for Calico Rock, but with just five points to their credit in the second half, the junior Lady Pirates were in deep trouble, down 32-10 at the half.
Melbourne continued to step on the gas in the third and the junior Lady Katz scored three straight hoops off steals under their own bucket, racking up six fast points without having to move much.
Then Melbourne turned its firepower back to the outside, with Gillihan and Cooper launching back-to-back triples.
When the third period ended, Melbourne had built a 51-18 advantage.
Calico Rock did outscore Melbourne 3-2 in the final frame, but that didn't keep the junior Lady Katz from capping an impressive season with a 53-21 win for the district tournament title.
Emily Carroll finished with four points for Melbourne, while Amanda Treat added three.
Abbi Miller and Kelsi Loggains notched two points apiece for the junior Lady Bearkatz.
Casey Cragle logged four points for Calico Rock.
Naomi Wright finished with three, and Alex Long two.
The junior Lady Katz earned a spot in the finals with a 53-24 blasting of Norfork Feb. 8.
Gillihan led the way with 17 points, while Treat and Cooper added 14 points each.
Calico Rock topped ICC 32-20 in the semi-final round Feb. 8.