BY EASTON LEONARD –
The Acorn Lady Tigers love playing on their home court, an electric environment with loyal fans cheering them to victory, and never was that more apparent than Friday (February 17th) when Coach Mike Jackson’s Lady Tigers hosted a very tough rival, the Kirby Lady Trojans, for the 1A-7West Senior Girls District Basketball Championship.
Elated with the victory, Coach Jackson said following the game, “I’m feeling excited for my girls. This was a goal they set … to have a good year and you never know but they’ve played well, especially of late and tonight they played their hearts out. At half-time I told them the third quarter would be important and they couldn’t relax even though we had an 11 point lead and they come back out, played good defense, rebounded well and kept their turnovers down and that’s the key in most games.”
Acorn started the ballgame on a 7-3 run, forcing the Lady Trojans to call a quick timeout with 4:22 left in the first quarter. After the timeout, the Lady Tigers went on to score six more points to Kirby’s five, making the score 13-8 after one. The Lady Tigers started extending their lead in the second quarter, as Kirby allowed 20 points to Acorn, while the Lady Trojans were held to just 14. After two quarters, the score was 33-22 in favor of the Lady Tigers at halftime.
Number twenty-two, Smith, led Kirby with 11 points at the half, as Faith Hill led the Lady Tigers with 16 points.
Just as their Coach told them, the Lady Tigers didn’t relax and continued to dominate the court after the half. During the third quarter, the Kirby offense was held to 12 points, while their defense gave up 20 points to the Lady Tigers, to make the score 53-34 going into the final quarter of play. Acorn didn’t let up in the fourth quarter, as the Lady Tigers outscored Kirby 18-8, to win the game and become 1A 7-West District Champions by 29 points, with a score of 71-42.
Smith led the Kirby Lady Trojans with 11 points, while Ramsey and Harmon added on 6 each, Swanson 5, number twelve 4, Anderson and Reid 3, and Price and Duggan 2.
Faith Hill led the Acorn Lady Tigers with 31 points on the night, while Tori Barrett scored 12 of her own, Sophie Jackson 9, Brooke Bates 5, Morgan Fagan 4.
Coach Jackson admitted that playing on home court certainly has its advantages, “They played with a lot confidence. You know we’re 15-0 at home for the year. We’ve got a pretty good seed in the regional already … this just helps us just a little bit more. We played with a lot of heart tonight. I figured it up, we’re at 74-11 at home since 2012.”
The Lady Tigers had a bye in the first round of district play and defeated the Mt. Ida Lady Lions in the second round on Thursday.
Acorn outscored the Lady Lions 21-15 in the first quarter, as Brooke Bates added on 8 points and 2 three pointers. The Lady Tigers extended their lead to 10 points in the second quarter, as Acorn scored 17 points to Mt. Ida’s 13, to make the score 38-28 at halftime.
Patty Ann Whisenhunt, number 23, led the Lady Lions with 9 points, while Faith Hill led Acorn with 10 points.
The Lady Tigers defense shined in the third quarter, as Acorn held the Lady Lions to only 7 points, while the Lady Tigers scored 18 of their own. Making the score 56-35 going into the final quarter of play.
Adding to the excitement of the game and the on-going rivalry between the Lady Tigers and the Lady Lions, was a Technical call against number 22 Braelynne Bates of the Lady Lions, resulting in the Lady Tigers adding 2 more to their score. Acorn held a lead as large as 30 in the fourth, but when the final buzzer rang, the Lady Tigers defeated Mt. Ida by 28 points, 70-42.
Whisenhunt led the Mt. Ida Lady Lions with 15 points, as Bates scored 10 points of her own, Smith 8, Burke 6, and Fiorello 3.
Sophie Jackson led the Acorn Tigers with 21 points, while Brooke Bates added on 15, Faith Hill 14, Makayla Anderson 6, Tori Barrett 5.
The Lady Tigers are the top seed going into regional action this week at County Line High School. Coach Jackson’s strategy is simple, “They’re playing well right now. You just got to make your game plans, it’s all about match-ups, who you draw, and doing it one game at a time.”
The Lady Tigers will travel to Branch, Ark. Wednesday, February 22, to face the Lady Saints of St. Paul with tip off at 7 p.m.