PRAIRIE GROVE -- Pea Ridge coach Heath Neal didn't expect Prairie Grove to slow the game down quite as effectively as they did, yet his Lady Blackhawks escaped with a win.
Friday's contest went down to the final horn with Pea Ridge winning by the narrowest of margins, 22-21.
"We obviously didn't prepare fully for the stall game, but at the same time we made some adjustments and our kids responded. They never quit battling and luckily we pulled it out, had a dogfight, 22-21," said Pea Ridge coach Heath Neal.
Prairie Grove led 10-9 at the end of the first quarter and the slowdown escalated from that point. Pea Ridge slipped ahead, 17-16, at halftime and was severely tested by the strategy implemented by veteran Prairie Grove coach Kevin Froud.
"The last time we played them we were down 42-10 I think at halftime. They hit a bunch of 3-pointers and all that and we were trying to limit their possessions and take care of ours and take opportunities that we had and we did and we got a lot of good opportunities. We just didn't knock them down," Froud said.
Prairie Grove senior Larisha Crawford scored all three of her points in the third including a driving field goal with 3.8 seconds left that pulled the Lady Tigers within, 21-19.
Pea Ridge dodged several bullets in the fourth quarter. Jasmine Wynos got a good look in the paint, but couldn't score at the 6:42 mark. At the other end Prairie Grove senior Emily Grant stole the ball on the baseline. Pea Ridge junior Alissa Short stole the ball back taking away a crucial extra possession from the Lady Tigers.
Neal wants his ball club to continue to get better regardless of opponent or game situation.
"This is not a game that you can really look at it and say that we played good or bad, cause at the same time they took us out of everything that we do," Neal said. "We were short-handed a couple of kids for a state indoor track meet. I'm pretty sure they knew that so they tried to use that as an advantage and it worked for them for awhile. We used some kids that usually come off the bench, that take minutes that way, had to start, had to do some different rotations, but for us to do that with some of our youth it showed a lot of maturity on my team and normally we probably get beat in that situation, but we have a lot of senior leadership and a lot of our youth stepped up tonight. Luckily we pulled it out. It was a tough one."
Hollyn Davis, who led Pea Ridge with 9 points, was scoreless in the second half and missed a 3-pointer. Grant rebounded and Prairie Grove got the ball to Wynos driving the lane again. This time the sophomore was fouled. Her first free throw bounced around and went out, but the second was good making the contest a one-point game, at 21-20.
At the 2:33 mark, Katelyn Swope scored Pea Ridge's only point of the fourth on a free throw, but that merely extended the lead to 22-20. Thirtytwo seconds later Wynos got a step and drove to the goal drawing the sixth team foul and earning a trip to the line. She was only able to make 1-of-2 leaving Pea Ridge nursing a slim, 22-21, lead. Somehow the Lady Blackhawks made that hold up over the final two minutes -- although Prairie Grove missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 6.6 seconds remaining.
"You're one point away and a free throw here or there or a made layup here or there. Either team, they missed some layups, too; and it was a good, contested ball-game," said Froud, who felt his girls competed and played hard.
"We just got to step up and make plays when it's opportunities. I thought Grant did a good job in the first half making some pull-up shots when she was guarded. I thought we caught them off-guard in that, but we just got to capitalize when we have opportunities," Froud said.
By avoiding a loss, the Lady Blackhawks kept themselves in the thick of the conference race.
"That's all we can do is just keep going one game at a time, hopefully keep getting better and picking up a win," Neal said. "I expect with the way that we've been scoring that sometimes teams are going to try to slow us down and possibly stall like they did tonight, but we've got to get ready for that. It's about to be postseason play so we got to get ready for everything."
PEA RIDGE 22, PRAIRIE GROVE 21
Pea Ridge (21-4, 8-2): Hollyn Davis 1 7-8 9, Aidan Dayberry 2 0-2 5, Gabbi Adams 2 0-0 4, Katelyn Swope 1 1-2 4. Totals 6 8-12 22.
Prairie Grove (6-13, 1-9): Jasmine Wynos 1 8-10 10, Emily Grant 3 0-1 6, Larisha Crawford 1 1-2 3, Kaylee Elder 0 2-3 2.
3-Point Goals -- Pea Ridge 2 (Swope, Dayberry).Sports on 02/06/2019
Print Headline: Prairie Grove Girls Come Away One Point Short