By Kyle Smith
Democrat Sports Editor
The fouls added up, and the Smith-Cotton Lady Tigers cashed in.
The Lady Tigers went 21 of 31 from the free-throw line Saturday and defeated Bishop Ward 51-42 in the consolation final of the Smith-Cotton/McDonald’s Girls Basketball Classic.
S-C (10-8) outscored the Lady Cyclones 21-18 at the foul stripe, senior Jack Greer sparked rallies in the second and third quarters and S-C won its second straight game.
Greer sank a 3-pointer with 3:59 left in the first half, and the Lady Tigers followed with a 7-0 run.
Greer, who was named to the all-tournament team, scored six of the Lady Tigers’ first nine points in the second half and helped them outscore Bishop Ward 15-8 in the third quarter.
“That’s usually what I do,” Greer said of kick-starting her team. “If my shots don’t go, I usually try getting on a roll, driving it in hard and dishing it off.”
Points were hard to come by in the first quarter with the Lady Tigers building an 8-3 lead.
“I think we came out with some intensity,” S-C coach Zach Vandevender said. “We came out flat the last game (a 43-22 win over Southwest Early College Campus on Friday night.) We came out with some intensity (Saturday), defensively, especially. Offensively, we continued to have to work our offense. We knocked down some free throws.”
The Lady Tigers held Bishop Ward to no field goals inside the arc until 2:06 were left in the first half when Breana McMillion scored inside. McMillion paced the Lady Cyclones with 18 points.
“They were a pretty physical defense,” Greer said. “I’d say it was a lot harder for us to drive. But, we’ve been working on that in practice. When we drive, there’s going to be someone open and just kick it.”
Bishop Ward (4-8) opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer by McMillion but eight of the team’s first 11 points came from the free-throw line.
S-C extended its lead to 21-12 with 2:53 to go. However, the Lady Cyclones finished the half on a 6-0 run.
“First (half), we got into some foul trouble,” Vandevender said of his team that led 21-18 at halftime. “There were other players who stepped up and did a good job of filling in. We needed that. We needed that balanced scoring.”
Megan Lollis and Abby Knight had three first-half fouls, and Greer and Elena Sharp had two each.
The third quarter was when the Lady Tigers made their move.
Besides Greer’s six third-quarter points, Sharp scored on a 3-point play, Lollis scored on a floater and Knight, who finished with 15 points, scored the final four points to put the Lady Tigers ahead 36-26.
Bishop Ward cut its deficit to eight points (36-28) on two free throws by McMillion with 7:08 left, but the Lady Cyclones never got closer to Smith-Cotton.
“We slowed down our offense,” Greer said of her team’s improved play. “There toward the end, we realized they had gotten in foul trouble and putting girls in there that really can’t cover us, so we just took it to them.”