By Kyle Smith
Democrat Sports Editor
Sophomore Antoinette Taylor and her fellow guards made sure the State Fair women’s basketball team was victorious Tuesday night.
Taylor, Adella Randle-El and Erin Boothe combined for 23 second-half points, and the Lady Roadrunners beat Arkansas Baptist 65-49 at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
Taylor led the charge, scoring 12 of her 14 points in the second half and finishing with three rebounds, two assists and two steals overall.
“I’m the spark. I have to be the spark of the team,” Taylor said. “I love doing it.”
Randle-El scored nine points overall to go along with a team-high six assists and five assists. Boothe had 10 points and two steals, while playing for only 10:21.
Taylor said, “In the second half, the coaches told us that’s when the guards can take over. They just wanted us to get the post established (in the first half) and that would open up the guards’ game.”
The guards had to pick up the slack because the Lady Buffs’ post players held State Fair’s big girls in check in the first half. The Lady Buffs outrebounded State Fair 25-21 in the first half, including 11-9 on the offense board.
“They are tall,” Taylor said. “We weren’t boxing out like we were supposed to. The first half, they had more rebounds than we did.”
Defense was the key to the Lady Roadrunners’ success. They amassed 17 steals, as part of Arkansas Baptist’s 26 turnovers. They outscored Arkansas Baptist 24-5 on points off turnovers.
The Lady Roadrunners (8-6) jumped ahead 26-13 after Arkansas Baptist got into early trouble. The Lady Buffs were whistled for three fouls in the first 1:08, and State Fair was in the bonus with 15:31 left in the half.
Derriel Banyard made two 3-pointers, and Narshanda Malone had one, as the Lady Roadrunners built the double-digit lead.
Arkansas Baptist closed strong though, scoring the half’s final eight points and slicing its deficit to 32-28 at halftime.
State Fair used a 9-0 run early in the second half to take charge.
Taylor made one of her two 3-pointers, and Apiphany Woods had a traditional three-point play, as State Fair took a 52-39 lead near the 14-minute mark. The Lady Buffs made four turnovers during that stretch, including a five-second call on an inbounds play.
Arkansas Baptist cut the Lady Roadrunners’ lead to single digits (52-43), but they answered with a jumper by Woods, a putback by Alecia Cooley and a 3 pointer by Randle-El to extend the lead to 14 (59-45).
Arkansas Baptist closed within 10 points once more, but the Lady Roadrunners answered with a 12-3 run to wrap up the victory.
Christina Devers scored a game-high 15 points for the Lady Buffs, and Meyonsha Riddles added 12.
The Lady Roadrunners, who beat Penn Valley 112-52 last Saturday, will host Three Rivers in their Region 16 opener at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.