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Vilonia rallies late, tops LR Christian

by JEFF REED SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | February 4, 2023 at 2:04 a.m.

In a key conference contest, the Vilonia Lady Eagles just kept playing their game.

The Eagles (18-4, 10-1 5A-Central) withstood a strong first quarter and an onslaught of three-point shooting from Little Rock Christian before escaping with a 62-56 victory Friday night in Little Rock.

After leading 51-48 in the fourth quarter, Vilonia rallied from a 54-51 deficit in the final three minutes to keep a share of the conference lead.

"That is just Vilonia, that is what they do,'' Little Rock Christian Coach Ronald Rogers said.

Bailey Sims' layup cut it to 54-53. After two Little Rock Christian misses, Sims added two free throws with 1:49 left to give Vilonia a 55-54 lead. But the Warriors' Ella Watson added two free throws with 1:22 left to give Little Rock Christian a 56-55 advantage. The Warriors would not score again, missing their final five shots.

Kinley Mears' layup regained the lead for Vilonia at 57-56, Lexy Heston added a free throw, and Sims and Sidni Middleton put it away from two free throws each in the final 26 seconds.

"Throughout the game we were concerned with how they were shooting,'' Vilonia Coach Jeremy Simon said. "They came out hot, just like we thought they would. We thought we would get their best shot. We thought they would shoot it well."

Little Rock Christian (14-8, 5-4) hit 7 of 15 shots in the first quarter, including 4 three-pointers, and led 19-11 after the first period.

Simon said in Vilonia's 56-39 victory over Little Rock Christian, the Warriors hit just 3 three-pointers.

"They didn't shoot it like they did at our place,'' he said.

On Friday, Little Rock Christian finished with 10 three-pointers.

"Tonight was a totally different story,'' Simon said. "You get that kind of night out of them they are capable of beating anybody when they play like that."

It wasn't just the Warriors' shooting that came into play. Vilonia had 11 turnovers in the first half, seven in the second quarter. Still, the Lady Eagles managed a 29-27 halftime lead, thanks to limiting the Warriors to 2-of-12 shooting and forcing seven turnovers in the quarter.

The Lady Eagles led 41-38 after three quarters, but Little Rock Christian hit three straight three-pointers and 5 of 6 to start the quarter for a 54-51 lead with 3:13 left. The Warriors would not hit another field goal, missing their final 10 shots.

"Every time it felt like we were starting to get some momentum, Christian would come back with a three-pointer,'' Simon said. "They came to battle. Luckily, we found a way and made some plays at the end, got some stops and got some rebounds.

"Christian rebounded very well. It was hard to keep them off the boards. That just showed how hard they wanted to win this game."

Middleton led Vilonia, which used just six players, with 16 points and Sims added 14. Maddie Mannoin scored 11, Lexy Heston 9 and Kinley Mears 7.

Little Rock Christian was led by AJ Jackson with 14, Kate Denton 11, Ella Watson 10 and Mia Smith 9.

Print Headline: Vilonia rallies late, tops LR Christian


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