Lady Billies survive sloppy game
Even front-line players on a good team can learn something. Monticello found that out the hard way in the first half Friday night at Lake Village Lakeside.
Luckily for the Lady Billies, they learned their lessons well. After intermission, the superior talent wearing blue and white took over in a 56-29 victory over the Lady Beavers that improved Monticello to 15-4 overall, 9-1 in Class 3A4A, District 12.
“Midway through the first quarter,” second-year girls’ head coach Bobby Lewallen explained, “my starters had only scored six points. They didn’t play well at all, missing five or six shots from under the goal.
“I benched all five starters until the last two minutes of the second quarter. I thought I needed to give them some time to think about how awful they started the game. When I put them back in, we were down four points. The made a short comeback but still didn’t play Billie basketball.
“Chaney Scott and Taylor Donald took over after halftime. Those two got out on the break with Mariah Austin and played the way we’re supposed to, running and making layups. We got the win but we need to be more consistent.”
Tuesday’s scheduled contest at Junction City was postponed because of that morning’s snowstorm. Lewallen was looking for his 300th win in 14 seasons of coaching girls’ basketball in that contest. As it is, the next opportunity will be Friday against McGehee at Dan Coston Field House.
Junction City and the Lady Owls are the last games on the Lady Billies’ schedule against 3A teams.
Then, Monticello will finally be through with the Arkansas Activities Association’s two-year experiment with “blended” conferences. The remaining contests, though all will also still be 12-3A4A games, will count toward determining seeding for the 8-4A district tournament.
Arch-rival Warren begins that stretch as Lady ’Jacks visit Monticello next Tuesday. The 8-4A district tournament is set for Feb. 12-17 at Dumas. Depending on the seed with which the Lady Billies enter that tourney, they might be assured of playing at home in the 4A South Region the next week (see accompanying story).
But it’s a good bet Lewallen wants his charges to finish both the regular season and district tournament strong and head into the regionals with some momentum.
Plus, Monticello nemesis Star City will be lurking on the other side of the district bracket—and the Lady Billies likely can think of nothing better than to get past the Lady Bulldogs.
At Lake Village, Scott led Monticello with 17 points and Donald added 14 as Monticello literally exploded out of the halftime locker room, scoring more points in the third quarter than it did in all the first half.
An 18-7 final stanza sealed what turned out to be the easy win.