The Mena LadyCats played three games in three days at the regional tournament in Crossett and will be the fourth seed from 4A South in this week’s State Tournament at Farmington High School. The LadyCats will meet the Pea Ridge Lady Blackhawks in opening round action Wednesday at 4:00 in Farmington.
The Mena girls slipped past Magnolia 31-29 Thursday at the regional tournament. Mena dropped a hard fought 32-27 decision in Friday’s regional tournament semifinals against undefeated Star City. Then the LadyCats lost a tough 37-35 contest to Crossett in Saturday’s consolation contest. All the action was heard live on KQOR 105.3.
Mena earned the state tournament trip with a thrilling 31-29 win over Magnolia in the opening round of the regional tournament on Thursday. Grayson Fairless hit the go ahead shot with five seconds to play in the game after the LadyCats had trailed throughout the contest. Mena trailed 17-11 at the half, and 26-20 after three quarters, before coming back in the fourth quarter to extend their season. Fairless led the way with 12 points, all in the second half. Kiara Kesterson scored nine points on three – three pointers.
The victory advanced the LadyCats to the semifinals against top-ranked and undefeated Star City on Friday. The Mena girls probably played their best game of the year as they pushed the highly regarded Lady Bulldogs to the end before falling 32-27. The LadyCats showed they weren’t intimidated early on as they jumped to a 10-5 lead after the opening quarter. Mena led 17-16 at the half. Star City switched to an aggressive 1-3-1 zone defense which turned the game in their favor. Star City went on an 11-0 run in the third quarter to take a 27-21 lead going into the fourth quarter. Gracie Lyle’s three pointer to open up the final quarter cut the Star City lead to 27-24. Then the Lady Bulldogs held the ball for over six minutes before finally forcing the LadyCats to come out of their packed-in zone defense. Forced to foul down the stretch, the Mena girls had to send Star City to the charity stripe. After missing free throws, the Lady Bulldogs secured offensive rebounds four times in the final two minutes of the game to keep from giving Mena an opportunity to come back. Fairless, a sophomore and our Comfort Center Player of the Game, led the LadyCats with 10 points. Paige Evans and Gracie Lyle had six each.
The loss sent the LadyCats into Saturday’s consolation contest against the hometown Crossett Lady Eagles. The LadyCats fell behind by ten points in the fourth quarter, and it looked like the third game in three days may have taken its toll. However, the LadyCats stormed back late in the game. A pair of free throws by Kiara Kesterson gave the LadyCats the lead at 33-32. After a Crossett basket, Paige Evens hit a shot with 26 seconds to play to put Mena back in front at 35-34. But the Lady Eagles answered with a three pointer to win it 37-35. Emily Wagner, our Comfort Center Player of the Game, had a big day for Mena with 14 points, including four – three pointers. Hannah Stockton finished with six. Fairless had five. Lyle, Kesterson, and Paige Evans had four each.
Coach Scott Wright’s LadyCats, now 17-16 on the season, will open up the 4A State Tournament against the Pea Ridge Lady Blackhawks Wednesday at 4:00 in Farmington. The Lady Blackhawks are 25-9 on the year. Phillip Wilson will have all the exciting play-by-play action on KQOR 105.3.