Pulaski Academy opened a big lead in the first half, added to it a little in the third quarter, then cruised to a 46-20 victory over Stuttgart in the semifinals of the 4A-5 conference tournament Thursday afternoon at Pulaski Academy's Alex Hugg Gymnasium
After leading 14-2 after one quarter, the Lady Bruins (18-4, 13-0) increased that lead to 33-6 at the half and 42-12 12 after three quarters.
"Stuttgart had won eight in a row before tonight," Pulaski Academy Coach Rick Treadway said. "The last time they lost was here about a month ago so I was very pleased with our effort. The kids came out played with high energy and we did what we had to do.
"We played very good defensively, but we didn't shoot it great, but we shot it well enough. And we were able to rest our legs a little in the final quarter to save something for the finals tomorrow."
Treadway was pleased with the Lady Bruins on the defensive end of the floor.
"I mean these kids are tough like a bunch of termites," he said. "They're just always moving and they really didn't have to buy in to defense because that's just the way they play. They all play hard and they are a really fun group to watch and coach."
It took a while for anyone to score, but the Lady Bruins finally took the lead with 5:41 left in the first quarter when Riley Smith downed a field goal. The Lady Ricebirds (8-10, 7-5) came right back when Emma Banks tied the score.
With 3:41 left in the quarter, Pulaski Academy had increased the lead to 6-2 when Taylor Hernandez hit a three-pointer, the first of three in the first quarter for the Lady Bruins. A field goal by Natalya Kaza increased the lead to 8-2, then Estella Gadberry closed out the quarter with successive three-pointers and a 14-2 lead.
Gadberry opened the second quarter with another three-pointer for a 17-2 advantage. Banks added a field goal for Stuttgart, but that didn't faze Pulaski Academy. With 5:20 left in the first half, the Lady Bruins held a 21-4 lead. Two free throws from Stuttgart's Mya McCoy made in 21-6 just 15 seconds later.
Pulaski Academy scored the next 12 points and held a 33-6 lead at the break.
Stuttgart managed to add six points in the third quarter, but the Lady Bruins added nine to increase the margin to 42-12.
The Lady Ricebirds scored six early points in the fourth quarter, trimming the lead to 42-18. Kathryn Payton added a field goal with 3:15 left in the game, putting the score at 42-20.
Lily Crandall sank a field goal with 2:59 left, then Megan Johnston hit two free throws with 1:40 left to set the final margin.
Smith had a game-high 14 points for the Lady Bruins, while Gadberry's three-pointers gave her nine points.
Banks led Stuttgart with six points, hitting single field goals in the first three quarters.