FARMINGTON -- Offensive efficiency, defense and rebounding proved to be just what the doctor ordered with Farmington stopping Pea Ridge, 51-39, during a 4A-1 District girls basketball semifinal Thursday, Feb. 20.
Farmington's defense, much improved from a year ago, rose to the occasion. The win put Farmington into the district championship game for the second straight year. Meanwhile Pea Ridge dropped into the consolation game against Gravette, which was beaten by Harrison, 42-26, in the other semifinal.
"This time of year you've got to be efficient on the offensive end and limit turnovers," said Farmington coach Brad Johnson. "You've got to be prepared defensively containing the bounce and do a good job on the defensive glass."
A big part of the defense was holding their own on the boards with junior Tori Kersey scoring 9 points and pulling down 17 rebounds. Farmington held a 35-27 rebounding advantage. Senior Makenna Vanzant had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists while committing only a single turnover.
The Lady Cardinals picked up their defensive intensity more than making up for a slow start in which they didn't score for the first 2:08 and the last 1:12 of the first quarter at Prairie Grove's Tiger Arena.
During the combined 3:20 scoreless time frame, Pea Ridge managed only two points against Farmington's defense.
Trinity Johnson took a long outlet and drove from the left wing to beat the Lady Blackhawks in transition and get Farmington on the scoreboard. Her layup tied the game at 2-2. The score was again deadlocked at 5-5 when senior forward Audrey Culpepper hit the first of two treys firing from the left wing on the first pass of the half-court set to begin a 7-2 Farmington run.
Lauren Wright's basket for Pea Ridge ended the run, but Culpepper got another open look from the same spot and nailed a 3-pointer. Farmington held Pea Ridge without a point for the last 1:34 of the first and an additional 3:34 in the second. The 5:08 defensive stand became crucial because the Lady Cardinals didn't score for 5:34.
Blakelee Winn's free throw got Pea Ridge within 15-13 but Farmington closed out the half on a 10-3 run keyed by three trifectas. Sophomore Carson Dillard hit from the right corner on an in-bounds play. Vanzant added a pair of long-range buckets in the last two minutes to give Farmington a 25-16 halftime advantage.
Sophomore Morgan Brye sank back-to-back 3-pointers for Farmington midway through the third quarter and the Lady Cardinals shut out Pea Ridge for the final 2:15 of the third while getting an assist from Culpepper to Kersey and Dillard's driving finish. They made layups and Farmington was up 39-27 going into the fourth -- something Brad Johnson attributed to staying mentally focused and doing a good job of preparation while not playing earlier in the week.
"The easy parts of the game you've got to be really efficient at, layups and free throws, you've got to knock those down," Brad Johnson said.
Farmington pushed the margin to 17 in the first minute of the fourth. Kersey crashed the offensive glass and was fouled sinking both free throws. Dillard knocked down another triple putting the Lady Blackhawks in a 44-27 deficit.
Pea Ridge tried to rally with a 9-3 run capped by Winn's layup that cut Farmington's lead to 47-36 at the 3:34 mark. Farmington shut that down by limiting the Lady Blackhawks to three points over the final three-and-a-half minutes. Vanzant made four straight free throws to account for the 51-39 final.
Winn scored 14 and Wright added 12 for Pea Ridge.
Farmington 51, Pea Ridge 39
Farmington (25-3, 9-0): Makenna Vanzant 3-9 6-6 14, Tori Kersey 2-11 5-8 9, Carson Dillard 3-6 0-0 8, Morgan Brye 2-6 2-4 8, Audrey Culpepper 2-8 0-0 6, Trinity Johnson 2-2 0-0 5, Joelle Tidwell 0-6 1-2 1, Kaci Drain 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-49 14-20 51.
Pea Ridge (16-7, 3-6): Blakelee Winn 5 4-9 14, Lauren Wright 4 2-2 12, Aidan Dayberry 2 3-6 8, Allisa Short 1 1-2 3, Josey Goldberg 1 0-2 2. Totals 13 10-19 39.
3-Point Goals -- Farmington 9-23 (Brye 2-4, Culpepper 2-5, Vanzant 2-5, Dillard 2-5, Trinity Johnson 1-1, Drain 0-1, Tidwell 0-2), Pea Ridge 3 (Wright 2, Dayberry).
Rebounds -- Farmington 35 (Kersey 17), Pea Ridge 27. Assists -- Farmington 12 (Vanzant 7), Pea Ridge 6. Steals -- Farmington 2 (Kersey, Tidwell), Pea Ridge 2. Blocks -- Farmington 1 (Culpepper), Pea Ridge 3. Turnovers -- Farmington 9.Sports on 05/20/2020
Print Headline: Defense Carries Farmngton Girls