Lady Billies bounce back with big win
It’s a shame, really.
Drew Central’s young Lady Pirates were definitely in the woing place at the wrong time facing a mad Monticello senior girls’ squad—and it showed in a 64-41 Lady Billie victory Tuesday night at Dan Cotson Field House that not only put Monticello back on the winning track but secured the “Showdown In M-Town” Trophy between the two crosstown rivals.
Monticello, still smarting from an “embarrassing” 44-31 loss Friday night at Fordyce, improved to 14-4 overall and 9-1 in the Arkansas Activities Association’s “blended” Class 3A-4A, District 12 conference. The Lady Pirates dropped to 6-10 for the season and 3-6 in 12-3A4A.
Three Lady Billies reached double figures in the game while Monticello’s defense smothered Drew Central, allowing only four players to score. Shania Smith led all scorers with 25 points for Monticello.
Taylor Donald added 12 and Mariah Austin chipped in with 10 for the Lady Billies. Amaya Partman paced DC with 16 points and Breannah Linely scored 12.
“We just came out flat last week,” Monticello head girls’ coach Bobby Lewallen said after the Drew Central game. “We didn’t play well in either game (a win at Smackover and the loss to Fordyce). We made a few adjustments in practice that hopefully put us back on the right track. (Tuesday) was a good win. It was nice to get back in the win column.”
The first eight minutes largely decided the rivalry game. The Lady Billies raced out to a 16-5 advantage at the end of one quarter and built on that lead by outscoring DC by seven points in the second period.
“Sometimes our minds are moving faster than our bodies; we need to catch up,” Lewallen said of the fast start. “But we are quick. When we make the game fast, get our in transition and run the fast break, I think that’s when we play our best.”
The second-year head coach had a believer in Drew Central head girls’ coach Michael Goad. As far as team goes, Goad said Monticello is as fast, if not faster, than any team his Lady Pirates will face in 2017-18. But still, he was pleased, he said.
“ My girls played hard; I was proud of that,” Goad noted. “We just missed a lot of easy shots and a ton of free throws that hurt us. We did pretty solid job of getting back on them. They still got some transition buckets but it was definitely better than the last time we played them (a 62-31 Lady Billie win on Dec. 5, 2017 at Drew Central Gymnasium).
“The biggest thing we’ve been working on is effort. I felt like the last time we played them, our effort wasn’t where it should have been. I felt like (Tuesday), they played as hard as they could. Again, we missed shots but as far as the effort goes, I think they brought it.”
After trading point-for-point in the third quarter, Monticello sealed the win with a 12-7 run in the final stanza. Both coaches agreed this was an enjoyable game, but it was more for the fans and players than anything else.
“It’s a fun game for the town and the kids because they know each other,” Lewallen said. “It’s a lot of fun to play against those guys. In the grand scheme of things, however, it doesn’t mean anything for either one of us. They’re still working on advancing as far as they can in 3A and we’re trying to go as far as we can in 4A. But it’s a lot of fun for the town; everybody gets into it.”
The reason Monticello was so focused, Lewallen also mentioned, was that the Lady Billies pretty much didn’t show up at Fordyce Friday. Even though Monticello had already beaten the Ladybugs twice (on back-to-back nights) this season, the coach said he was highly disappointed over the weekend.
And it had nothing to do with the fact that all his peers would say it’s hard to beat the same team three times in one year.
“Embarrassing—that sums up our performance (Friday),” the Lady Billies’ coach said. “We owe everyone who came to watch us a refund. They came to watch us play basketball and only one team showed up. We missed enough free throws and shots under the goal to win. As a team, we are not even close to where we should be.”
Smith was the lone Monticello player in double figures as Fordyce snapped a 25-game Lady Billie win streak in 12-3A4A over two years. The junior netted 14 points, almost as many as her team scored in the first three quarters.
With Drew Central, it was another story last Friday. The Lady Pirates topped Hamburg 39-33 to stop a three-game losing streak. Sophomore Darbee Forte was the high score for DC, netting 15 points.
The Lady Pirates used an 11-32 run in the third quarter against the Lady Lions to come from behind in the contest. Hamburg led by four at halftime.