Lady Pirates’ Gardner picks up where she left off

In her first three games of her junior year, Drew Central’s Cierra Gardner is showing why she was named All-State in Class 3A as a sophomore last season. Gardner has scored 74 points and has led the Lady Pirates to a 2-1 start. Tuesday night at Drew Central Gymnasium, Gardner got her points (24) but the Lady Pirates suffered their first loss, 73-49 to Class 4A Crossett.

Against Dermott in Drew Central’s season opener last Friday, Gardner more than doubled the Lady Rams by scoring 30 points in a 73-19 victory at Dermott. Then, Monday night, she equaled Hermitage when she netted 20 points in a 71-20 win at Hermitage.

Tuesday, Drew Central ran into another hot shooter—Crossett’s Kyelah Hodges. The senior better known for her exploits on the track for the two-time state champion Lady Eagles showed she is no slouch on the hardwood, either. Hodges scored almost at will against the Lady Pirates, putting a Gardner-like 42 points in leading Crossett to the easier-than-expected win.

Drew Central’s visitors raced out to a 41-25 lead at intermission; Hodges had 23 points by halftime. The teams then matched each other point-for-point in the third period before the Lady Eagles secured the win by outscoring Drew Central 23-15 in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Pirates won’t have long to think about Tuesday’s game, though as Hamburg—another member of 4A, District 8—will be in town on Thursday. The game was originally scheduled for Friday but has to be moved up a day because the Lions are still alive in the 4A state football playoffs. All four Drew Central teams will hit the floor, starting with the junior girls’ game at 4:30 p.m.

Against Crossett, the Lady Pirates were hampered when senior Madison Knowles fouled out without scoring and classmate Allison Eubanks was held to one made free throw. Monday at Hermitage, senior Jesse Brixie scored 11 points to complement Gardner’s 20 as the Lady Pirates used a whopping 38-point second quarter to salt the game away early.

And against Dermott in its season opener, Drew Central used another strong second period to blow out the Lady Rams. The Lady Pirates led 60-12 at the half and held their hosts scoreless in the final period in coasting to their first win of 2014-15.

<strong>Pirates</strong>

It’s been a rough start to the year for the rebuilding and very young Pirates—but they’ve been oh, so close. Tuesday night, Drew Central dropped its second game of three to start 2014-15 as Class 4A Crossett slipped past the Pirates 59-57 in Drew Central Gymnasium.

In the season opener at Dermott last Friday, the Pirates took the Rams into overtime before falling 63-57. On Monday, though, Drew Central found the win column with a 67-46 thrashing of Hermitage, also on the road.

Junior K.J. Griddine led the Pirates in scoring both against Crossett (17 points) and at Hermitage (16). Senior A.J. Simpson poured in a Pirates’ early season high 23 points in the loss at Dermott.

Tuesday night, Drew Central stayed with the higher classification Eagles throughout the contest, actually winning both the first and fourth quarters. However, Crossett flexed it’s muscle in the middle part of the game, outscoring the Pirates by 10 points in the second quarter to assume a 35-26 intermission advantage and by seven points in the third quarter to hold off a hard-charging Drew Central squad in the final eight minutes.

Against Dermott in the first game of the season, the story was much the same. Drew Central lead early, only to see the Rams fight back in the middle part of the game.

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