SPORTS EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of an on-going series highlighting top sports stories for the 2010-2019 decade at Prairie Grove High School and its alumni.
PRAIRIE GROVE -- Fundamental execution at both ends of the court in crunch time enabled Prairie Grove to pull off a 35-32 State semifinal girls basketball victory over Lonoke on March 6, 2010.
2009-2010 PRAIRIE GROVE GIRLS BASKETBALL
Nov. 10, 2009^Lincoln^Win^85-55^Nonconference
Nov. 12, 2009^Booneville^Win^65-24^Nonconference
Nov. 23, 2009^Greenland^Win^62-34^Nonconference
Nov. 24, 2009^Cedarville^Win^71-46^Nonconference
Nov. 28, 2009^Ozark^Win^62-32^Nonconference
Dec. 3, 2009^Lincoln^Win^67-28^Bi-County Tournament
Dec. 5, 2009^West Fork^Win^82-50^Bi-County Tournament
Dec. 8, 2009^at Huntsville^Win^54-40^4A-1 Conference
Dec. 11, 2009^Gravette^Win^61-39^4A-1 Conference
Dec. 29, 2009^Hartford^Win^75-59^Nonconference
Dec. 30, 2009^Hackett^Win^65-38^Nonconference
Dec. 31, 2009^at Greenwood^Win^61-36^Nonconference
Jan. 5, 2010^at Shiloh Christian^Win^56-33^4A-1 Conference
Jan. 12, 2010^Pea Ridge^Win^62-36^4A-1 Conference
Jan. 13, 2010^Gentry^Win^68-51^4A-1 Conference
Jan. 15, 2010^Farmington^Win^47-44^4A-1 Conference
Jan. 19, 2010^Berryville^Win^68-32^4A-1 Conference
Jan. 22, 2010^Gravette^Win^42-35^4A-1 Conference
Jan. 26, 2010^at Shiloh Christian^Win^54-38^4A-1 Conference
Jan. 29, 2010^Pea Ridge^Win^65-21^4A-1 Conference
Feb. 2, 2010^at Huntsville^Loss^47-39^4A-1 Conference
Feb. 5, 2010^at Gentry^Win^59-39^4A-1 Conference
Feb. 10, 2010^Berryville^Win^61-31^4A-1 Conference
Feb. 12, 2010^Farmington^Win^55-27^4A-1 Conference
Feb. 19, 2010^Gentry^Win^71-48^4A-1 District Semifinal
Feb. 20, 2010^Shiloh Christian^Win^52-33^District Championship
Feb. 24, 2010^Clarksville^Win^56-44^4A North Regional
Feb. 26, 2010^West Fork^Win^54-46^4A North Regional Semifinal
Feb. 27, 2010^Shiloh Christian^Win^52-30^Regional Championship
March 4, 2010^Malvern^W^58-40^State Quarterfinal
March 6, 2010^Lonoke^Win^35-32^State Semifinal
March 11, 2010^Star City^Win^59-56^4A State Championship
The win denied the Lady Jackrabbits a fourth straight appearance in the state finals. Lonoke, coached by Nathan Morris, went 26-9 and lost 50-45 to CAC to cap the 2006-2007 season. They virtually replicated that in 2007-2008 finishing 26-8 and again as State Runner-Up with a 44-40 loss to Huntsville in the 2008 Class 4A finals. During 2008-2009 Lonoke went 25-7 losing to Shiloh Christian, 51-45, in the state finals.
"In the semifinals we had to beat Lonoke, which was ranked No. 1 all throughout the whole year. They had been to the finals three years in-a-row which is why they were ranked No. 1," said Prairie Grove coach Kevin Froud.
Two years prior to their 2010 meeting, Lonoke ended Prairie Grove's season by turning away the Lady Tigers, 56-49, in a double overtime State quarterfinal on Feb. 29, 2008.
"That was a great game. It went back-and-forth," Froud said.
The loss didn't repeat in 2010 although the Lady Tigers didn't have the services of point-guard Jessie Van Wyhe, who moved back to Minnesota after averaging 4.3 points and 2.1 rebounds as a freshman on varsity in 2008.
Lonoke controlled the pace and forced the high-flying Lady Tigers, whom Froud said may have been the fastest team he's ever coached, to play Lonoke's game. Lonoke successfully defeated Star City, which won the other 2010 semifinal, 60-41, over Stuttgart by slowing the game down and winning 31-28 on Dec. 30, 2009.
Lonoke came back from six down in the third quarter to take a 31-27 lead early in the fourth after a 10-0 run. Julie Rutherford rallied the Lady Tigers, scoring a basket to draw Prairie Grove to within 31-29, then feeding Elysia Clement to tie the game at 31-all.
The Lady Tigers got a huge defensive stop drawing a charging foul on Lonoke's Cara Neighbors, who led the Lady Jackrabbits with 15 points. A basket by Neighbors that would have put Lonoke in front, 34-33, was erased.
Prairie Grove junior Kendra Coyle, who finished with 8 points, 2 assists and 3 steals, sustained a concussion while taking the charge and left the game.
At the other end Clement knocked down a pair of clutch free throws giving the Lady Tigers the psychological advantage with a slim 35-32 lead and only 17.1 seconds left in the semifinals of the Class 4A state tournament Saturday, March 6, 2010.
Clement would later reveal she practiced that exact scenario envisioning herself at the foul line in the last seconds of a game. Clement scored four of her six points in the fourth quarter. Earlier she missed the front end of a 1-and-1 that would have extended Prairie Grove's lead with 30.4 seconds remaining, then redeemed the victory when she got another opportunity.
"She's our best free-throw shooter, and she wasn't going to miss another one," Froud said during an interview following the game.
The Lady Tigers weren't out of the woods yet, however.
Lonoke ran its offense, but missed and Prairie Grove rebounded with seven seconds to go, then lost possession with Lonoke's Ashleigh Himstedt making a play on the ball and coming away with a dramatic steal. Prairie Grove dodged another bullet when her 3-point attempt fell short at the buzzer.
"That was a nail-biter. It was a nip-and-tuck ballgame. We had to make a stop to win," Froud said.
Justyne Huber and Julie Rutherford scored 10 points apiece to lead Prairie Grove.
CLASS 4A STATE SEMIFINAL 2010
Prairie Grove 35, Lonoke 32
Lonoke (28-6): Cara Neighbors 5 5-6 15, Asiah Scribner 4 1-3 9, Michaela Brown 1 2-2 4, Ashleigh Himstedt 1 0-0 2, McGaughy 1 0-3 2, Anna Himstedt 0 0-0 0, Morris 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 8-14 32.
Prairie Grove (31-1): Julie Rutherford 4-7 2-2 10, Justyne Huber 4-9 2-2 10, Kendra Coyle 4-12 0-0 8, Elysia Clement 1-1 4-5 6, Michelle Lumsargis 0-0 1-2 1, Morgan Abernathy 0-4 0-0 0, Alex Myers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 13-34 9-11 35.
3-Point Goals -- Lonoke 0. Prairie Grove 0-4 (Abernathy 0-2, Coyle 0-2).
Rebounds -- Prairie Grove 18 (Clement 5). Assists -- Prairie Grove 6 (Abernathy 3). Steals -- Prairie Grove 4 (Coyle 3). Blocks -- Prairie Grove 1 (Huber). Turnovers -- Prairie Grove 14. Team fouls -- Lonoke 16, Prairie Grove 16.Sports on 06/03/2020
Print Headline: Lady Tigers Power Into 2010 Finals