MABELVALE — The aggressiveness of the Little Rock Southwest Lady Gryphons gave them the push they needed late in the fourth quarter to pull away from the visiting Harding Academy Lady Wildcats in a 49-38 victory on Wednesday night.
“The takeaway from tonight is that we are learning more about ourselves and some of the things it takes to win certain games,” Harding Academy coach Rusty Garner said. “As always, we are very proud of our girls’ character and effort. Tonight was very valuable for us in our learning and growth.”
Southwest kept crashing the boards, which resulted in second-chance opportunities throughout the game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Lady Gryphons played a full-court press that made every pass for Harding Academy difficult.
JyKiara Brown had six points in the game but her leadership on the floor was apparent for the Lady Gryphons.
“She’s a senior and is actually coming off a ACL injury. She is just like it’s her senior year and she is going out with the notion that she is going out with a bang,” Southwest assistant coach Briana Austin said. “She’s a leader on the floor for us. The girls listen to her and they jell and focus in.”
Harding Academy stayed with the Lady Gryphons for the first half despite having trouble with the full-court press.
McKenney Sheffield led the Lady Wildcats with seven points to keep Harding Academy in the game early.
Southwest played aggressive all the way to the halftime buzzer and scored a big three-point basket with three seconds left by Adreona Green to give her five points at the half.
Asia Yarbrough led the Lady Gryphons in points with seven all of them coming in the second quarter. Southwest held a 24-17 lead going into the third quarter.
Calle Citty in the third quarter matched Southwest’s aggressiveness on her own.
She went after balls and was aggressive in her offense and she got rewarded with two trips to the free-throw line, where she went 3 of 4.
Seven of the 10 points that the Lady Wildcats had in the third quarter came from Citty.
Harding Academy seemed to have gotten the momentum going into the fourth but just like the end of the second quarter, the third quarter ended with a three-point basket with under 10 seconds left by Southwest to extend its lead to 36-27.
The Lady Wildcats would not go quietly however, as they started the fourth quarter with an offensive flurry.
Claire Cullins and Sheffield both got to the line for free throws. Cullins got to shoot three shots and went 2 of 3. Sheffield shot two and made both making the score 36-31.
Matti Clements cut the lead to three with just under six minutes to go and then the aggressiveness of the Lady Gryphons took over.
Harding Academy only made one more field goal in the game while Southwest started to go on an offensive run to put the game away.