X-factor reigns

HOT SPRINGS -- Farmington reserve guard Marin Adams stepped into the role of X-factor like a precision knife extracting chinks in Nashville's armor while propelling Farmington to victory in Thursday's state championship.

Basketball history reinvents itself 39 years later, in another state, another town 1,200 miles distant, different classification, revealing a hard lesson in Class 4A Arkansas girls basketball for Nashville.

It's a distinct reminder of a bitter pill that a Montana boys team swallowed way back in 1984 when eventual Montana Class A state champion, Butte Central Catholic, defeated the Hardin Bulldogs by three in a first-round game.

Hardin featured Jonathan Takes Enemy, a 6-feet-2 guard, who averaged 41 points over three state games to win tournament MVP honors, and my best friend, the late 6-feet-5 center Darin Big Medicine, who averaged 10 rebounds-per-contest.

Butte Central started three guys measuring 6-feet-5 across its front line. Both teams had been ranked No. 1 during the season and there was much anticipation about the first-round state tourney matchup.

I'll never forget it, both Big Medicine and Takes Enemy said the same thing, "Nobody told us about Joe Kump."

Evidently the Hardin game plan focused on defending the Maroons' triple towers but didn't put enough stock on guarding Kump, a 5-feet-10 outside shooter, who regularly stroked it from long range before the introduction of the 3-point shot to high school basketball.

After Thursday's Arkansas Class 4A State girls finals with Farmington knocking off defending champion, Nashville, 65-61, on the strength of an all-around impact by sophomores Marin Adams and Kaycee McCumber, can anybody hear Nashville's post game groans?

"Nobody warned us about Marin Adams or Kaycee McCumber ..."

The pair of Farmington sophomores combined for 27 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks off the bench.

Adams put forth a monster game, leading all scorers in the state finals with 22 points. She also contributed four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. The 5-feet-11 sophomore shot the lights out, making 8 of 12 field goals, 2 of 4 treys and 4 of 6 free throws.

She knifed her way through the Nashville defense at will, scoring on drives to the basket, beginning with a finish while breaking the Scrapperettes' press that fueled a 21-4 Farmington run which transformed a 10-5 early deficit into a 26-14 Lady Cardinal lead.

Adams scored nine points in the spree while McCumber capped the run with a putback.

Nashville's Caroline Dean broke the run by hitting a 3-pointer, only to have Adams answer with a trifecta of her own for Farmington, helping the Lady Cardinals maintain a 37-27 halftime lead.

Adams scored the first basket of the second half, utilizing a Euro step to beat the Scrapperettes on the baseline. She scored twice in traffic, busted another 3-pointer and polished a driving straightaway shot off the backboard. Adams demonstrated capacity to create her own shots and led the Lady Cardinals on a 17-11 run over a 6:34 span of the third quarter.

McCumber blocked a Nashville 3-pointer during the run and yanked away the rebound, drawing a frustration foul against Nashville's Kyleigh Scoggins. That was the second team foul and eventually contributed to Farmington getting in the bonus late. The rejected 3-pointer factored into Nashville's perimeter shooting woes. The Scrapperettes lived at the 3-point line much of this season, but made just 3 of 18 against Farmington. The block lingered in their minds as the game wore on.

McCumber's impact loomed large in crunch time. The 6-feet-1 sophomore's baseline bucket ended a 4:40 Farmington scoring drought and momentarily quelled the frenzy of Nashville fans, who worked themselves into a frenzy watching the Scrapperettes rally with 14 unanswered points to get back in the game.

The Scrapperettes committed a hard foul to prevent a layup and McCumber made a free throw to further still Nashville fans.

Scoggins sank both shots of the bonus to keep Nashville within 57-54. Adams did the same for Farmington to push the margin back to five at 59-54.

Nashville scored the next five points on a Scoggins' three and Lauren Carver's putback.

McCumber's statistics showed 5 points on 2 of 5 shooting, six rebounds and a monster block. She committed no fouls and no turnovers.

The two X-factors carried the Lady Cardinals through a long stretch, then handed the baton back to the starters.

Reese Shirey and Jenna Lawrence combined to close out the game on a 6-2 Farmington run to ice the state championship game with Farmington winning 65-61. Lawrence's stellar play throughout the state tournament makes her a worthy recipient of the Class 4A MVP award but in the finals Adams put up the kind of numbers that most valuable players are made of.

The future looks bright for Adams and McCumber.

Mark Humphrey is a sports writer for the Enterprise-Leader. The opinions expressed are the author's own.