After top-seeded Thayer had barely managed to escape the clutches of eighth-seeded Neelyville in the first round of the annual Van Buren Lady Dawg Classic, the Lady Bobcats were hoping for much more inspired play in the semifinals Dec. 1.
Hoping for, but not getting.
The Lady Cats were clearly out of sync all night long, as the homestanding Lady Dawgs of Van Buren, the tourney's number-four seed, topped Thayer 54-40 in a ragged affair without much of a flow, but with a lot of foul shots.
In addition to putting the Lady Dawgs on the free throw line too many times for the game, Thayer had a sluggish third period in which it posted only four points while trying to climb out of a double-digit hole, which proved to be the demise of the Lady Bobcats.
Van Buren turned the ball over on its first two possessions of the night, but the Lady Dawgs then settled down nicely and peeled off the first seven points of the contest to go up 7-0.
It turned out to be a hole that the Lady Bobcats found themselves in for most of the battle.
Hope Hunt stopped this Van Buren opening salvo with a layup at the 5:20 mark of the first, and Krysta Adams (seven points) chimed in with a 3-ball. A layup from Micah Stevens (nine points) locked the game at 7-all with 4:42 left in the first. It was also as close as Thayer would get to the lead from that point forward.
Betsy Sanders knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in the last two and a half minutes of the frame to help Van Buren to a 17-13 lead after one.
The Lady Cats were just a step or two slow on defense, and this resulted in the Lady Dawgs starting the second period in the bonus because of Thayer foul problems.
While Van Buren slowed the pace of the game to its liking with trips to the foul line in the second, a late push by the Lady Dawgs right before the half kept Thayer at bay.
Marie Getts started a 7-1 run for Van Buren with a trey that found the bottom of the net with 1:59 left until intermission.
The Lady Dawgs tossed in the last three points of the half to go on top 30-22 at the half.
Needing to get a couple of stops on defense to help them bridge the gap, the Lady Cats instead got hit with six straight points from Van Buren to start the third, extending the Lady Dawgs' advantage to 36-22.
Kaley Herbert (four points) halted the Van Buren charge with a jumper, and Adams added a hoop to narrow the gap to 10, 36-26.
This was Thayer's only points of the third, and Van Buren took a 39-26 lead into the final frame.
The Lady Bobcats did edge within six in the fourth, 44-38, but Van Buren refused to budge and held on for a 54-40 win, closing the night on an 8-2 run.
April Risner finished with 10 points for Thayer, while Chelsey Cabrales added six and Kacey Sims one.
It took some last-second heroics from Cabrales for Thayer to even make it to the semi-final round.
After trailing Neelyville for a big chunk of the night Nov. 27 in the first round, Cabrales got a tipin as time expired in the fourth to give Thayer a 30-29 come-from-behind victory over Neelyville.