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Friday, May 6, 2016

Lady Pirates denied repeat

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Brianna Mullins may not have been the tallest player on the court, but it's hard to imagine Nevada's junior guard having any bigger impact on the game than what she had in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A State Tournament March 2 at the W.T. Watson Athletic Center on the campus of Southern Arkansas University.

Backed by what was basically a raucous home crowd, Mullins poured in a game-high 32 points, including 17 in the critical fourth period, as Nevada, the state's top-ranked Class 1A team, knocked off Calico Rock, the defending state champions, 68-59.

The Lady Blue Jays (37-1) held the Lady Pirates without a field goal in the fourth period, as Nevada rallied back from a nine-point deficit in the third period. Calico Rock (33-7) only managed five points over the course of the last eight minutes of play, all on free throws. Nevada outscored the Lady Pirates 23-5 in the final frame, all but six of those points coming from Mullins.

Calico Rock held a 54-45 lead after three, thanks to a trey off an inbounds play from Emily Johnson that beat the buzzer. Johnson, last year's state MVP, finished with 31 points and 17 boards for Calico Rock.

Nevada cut into Calico Rock's margin with five straight points from Mullins to open the fourth, as the Lady Blue Jays were down 54-50 with seven minutes left in the game.

The Lady Pirates had a couple of costly turnovers down the stretch and the Lady Blue Jays took full advantage of them.

Especially Mullins.

She broke free for four unanswered points with a shade under three minutes left to give Nevada its first lead since early in the second period.

It was a lead that the Lady Blue Jays would not give up.

Nevada ended the game on a 13-2 run over the last three-and-a-half minutes to post the 68-59 victory.

Johnson got off to a torrid start for the Lady Pirates by firing in 11 points in the first period.

But Nevada ended the frame on a 7-0 run to take a 22-21 lead after one.

Johnson racked up Calico Rock's first five points of the second, before Brooke McCurley (13 points) got in on the fun.

She drilled three triples to help push the Lady Pirates back in front 37-31, with 1:50 left until the half.

Sloan Lively (seven points) finished the half strong by scoring four points to stake Calico Rock to a 43-36 cushion at the break.

Nevada pulled within two points in the third, but Calico Rock wrapped up the stanza with a 7-zip burst to take a 54-45 lead to the final frame.

That gave Mullins plenty of time to jump start the Lady Blue Jays with a big performance in the game's last eight minutes, giving Nevada a 68-59 victory.

Savannah Skidmore finished with eight points for the Lady Pirates, while Kaitlyn Fry and Karli Gillihan had two points apiece.

In opening-round action Feb. 29, the Lady Pirates blasted Lead Hill (22-16) 64-36.

Calico Rock opened the game on a 9-0 run and turned the Lady Tigers over eight times before they could find a hoop.

Skidmore (17 points) hit the last five points of the first to stake the Lady Pirates to an 18-6 lead after one.

Lead Hill went on a bit of a run late in the second, outscoring Calico Rock 11-5 over the course of the last three minutes of the half, but the Lady Tigers still trailed 35-21 at intermission.

The Lady Pirates built that lead to 49-29 after three, then cruised to the finish against Lead Hill.

Johnson paced Calico Rock with a game-high 25 points.

Fry had nine and McCurley seven.

Gillihan finished with four, while Billie Jo Stephen posted two points.

Brianne Burleson tallied 12 points to led Lead Hill.

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