Photographs by Stephen B. Thornton
Fayetteville players celebrate with the trophy after defeating North Little Rock in the Class 7A girls championship game Saturday at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs. The Lady Bulldogs won the school’s seventh girls state title and thwarted the Lady Charging Wildcats’ attempt to win two in a row.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
HOT SPRINGS -- Fayetteville's three-point flurry derailed North Little Rock's run for a second consecutive Class 7A girls basketball state championship.
The Lady Bulldogs knocked down nine three-pointers Saturday en route to their state-record seventh state championship, earning a 59-49 victory over the Lady Charging Wildcats in front of 5,359 at Bank of the Ozarks Arena.
North Little Rock Coach Daryl Fimple said his team didn't have an answer for the Lady Bulldogs.
"Good gosh, I've never seen a barrage of threes that don't even hit the rim," Fimple said. "It was straight net shots. It wasn't just one of them, it was a few of them."
Fayetteville (30-2) also has won championships in 1979, 1993, 1994, 2009, 2011 and 2015.
"I understand the history of Fayetteville High School and the Lady Bulldogs," said Coach Vic Rimmer, who arrived at Fayetteville in 2011 after leading Shiloh Christian to two state championships in 2009 and 2011. "I'm very humbled. That place, the town of Fayetteville, we're very blessed with the facilities, the community effort for the school and the education for our kids.
"There's a culture there that enhances kids who want to succeed on any level, in any sport and in the classroom. That's why Fayetteville High School itself is a successful place."
Freshman guard Sasha Goforth led Fayetteville with 19 points, including 3 three-pointers. She also had five steals and four assists. Senior guard Maya Mayberry, a daughter of former University of Arkansas, Fayetteville guard Lee Mayberry, finished with 14 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Lauren Holmes, a senior guard, had 13 points, 5 rebounds and made 3 three-pointers.
Six three-pointers, including three by Holmes, allowed the Lady Bulldogs to jump out to a 20-3 lead in the first 4:57. Fayetteville led 22-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Rimmer said he told his coaching staff before Saturday's game that while Holmes had struggled from the perimeter in recent weeks, he was confident in her to get back on track.
"I guess I like the big lights," Holmes said. "He's [Rimmer] been telling me the whole season that you'll make your threes when they count. That was true."
Goforth's layup pushed the lead to 24-9 with 6:04 left in the first half. Fayetteville went into halftime with a 31-15 advantage.
In the first half, Fayetteville shot 50 percent (12 of 24) and made seven three-pointers.
"It was the difference in the basketball game," Rimmer said.
The Lady Bulldogs stretched their lead to 42-23 with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter. North Little Rock junior forward Yo'Myris Morris' jumper cut the lead to 42-27 with 42 seconds left in the third quarter, and that was the score entering the fourth quarter.
The Lady Charging Wildcats got to within 51-46 with 1:58 to play on junior guard Amber Hawkison's three-pointer. But the Lady Bulldogs' advantage grew to nine points at 55-46 after Mayberry's two free throws with 39 seconds left.
North Little Rock overcame a nine-point halftime deficit in last year's Class 7A championship game against Conway to win its third state title in overtime. But on Saturday, the Fayetteville lead was too much to overcome.
"If we could have cut it to three, we could have gotten something going," Fimple said. "We had opportunities, but they just didn't go in."
Morris led the Lady Charging Wildcats with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Senior guard Mackenzie Tillman had 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Hawkison added 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
North Little Rock (28-3), which won the 7A-Central Conference championship, was without sophomore guard Kennady Tucker. Tucker injured her ankle in the Lady Charging Wildcats' Class 7A quarterfinal victory over Springdale on March 2.
Without Tucker, Fimple used eight players. He admitted that his team was fatigued entering Saturday's game, but he was proud of North Little Rock for getting back to the 7A championship game.
"Our kids fought so hard," Fimple said. "This team has won 28 games. We lived out of a suitcase all year long. They showed some serious toughness all year."
The freshman guard scored 19 points, making 8 of 14 shots. She knocked down 3 of 5 three-point attempts and finished with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. Goforth had a layup in Fayetteville’s 20-3 start en route to a 22-9 first-quarter lead.
Fayetteville won its state record seventh title. The Lady Bulldogs also won in 1979, 1993, 1994, 2009, 2011 and 2015. … North Little Rock was the defending Class 7A state champions but shot 34 percent Saturday and committed 15 turnovers. … Fayetteville made seven of its nine three-pointers in the first half and led 32-15 at halftime. … Fayetteville Coach Vic Rimmer has won four state championships. He won twice with Shiloh Christian in 2009 and 2011 and has led Fayetteville to two titles (2015, 2017).
— Jeremy Muck
“A three-pointer in the girls game is such a momentum swing. It’s like a dunk in boys basketball. They feel like superwomen out there.”
— North Little Rock girls basketball Coach Daryl Fimple on Fayetteville’s nine three-pointers
Sports on 03/12/2017
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