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‘Ugly’ win good enough for Morrilton

by Erick Taylor | March 2, 2023 at 2:02 a.m.

BLYTHEVILLE -- There wasn't anything stylish about Morrilton's first game at the Class 4A girls state tournament Wednesday afternoon, and that suited Lady Devils Dogs Coach Carin McNabb just fine.

A blistering rebounding effort and an efficient outing from Cheyanne Kemp was all Morrilton needed to zip out of the opening round with a 57-28 victory over Hamburg at Chickasaw Arena.

"To get a game under our belts here, get some of the jitters out for some of these kids that have never been here before is good," McNabb said. "But it was ugly, that's for sure. Hamburg played hard and played tough. They make you play fundamental basketball. [Hamburg Coach Brittany Pilcher] does a really good job with them.

"But for us, we'll take a win."

Morrilton (28-4) took it to its counterparts from the start and used that to eventually to reserve a spot in the second round, where it will play Clinton today at 7 p.m.

Kemp helped usher the Lady Devils into that matchup with 16 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Johnna Brockman added 14 points and 4 rebounds, and Jennifer Hartman collected 9 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals.

The Lady Devil Dogs were also stingy on the glass by outrebounding Hamburg 32-10 while turning their 24 forced turnovers into 20 points.

The Lady Lions (21-12), who got nine points from Skylar Watkins, didn't give themselves much of a chance in the first half, mainly because of miscues. Hamburg threw the ball away 14 times, including nine over the first eight minutes.

To compound matters, Morrilton held an overwhelming 21-5 rebounding advantage in the first half, resulting in numerous second-chance opportunities.

Kemp scored seven points in the first quarter to stake Morrilton to a 19-6 lead before the Lady Devils Dogs put the Lady Lions in an even deeper trench in the second quarter. A free throw from Jessi Hunt started an 11-2 run that allowed Morrilton's margin to balloon to 22 points.

Hamburg, which scored on consecutive baskets by Watkins to end the first half, showed plenty of fight in the second half, particularly in the third quarter when it matched the Lady Devil Dogs bucket for bucket during a three-minute stretch.

But too many turnovers and too much offensive firepower from Morrilton was more than the Lady Lions could overcome. The Lady Devils eventually invoked a running clock on Jeniah Johnson's 15-footer with 5:35 left in the game.

"You can't relax in the state tournament," McNabb said. "You really need to be playing your best basketball, and we weren't. But at this point in the season, an ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day of the week."


Evan Polsgrove hit a spinning one-hander with six seconds left to snap a 48-48 tie and push Brookland (25-10) to a tight win.

Polsgrove finished with 14 points for the Lady Bearcats, who led 43-38 with less than four minutes remaining. Stella Parker had 12 points.

Marshay Johnson and Joslyn Robertson both had 12 points, and Gracie Muckleroy scored 11 points for Star City (30-4), which tied the game on a putback from Kyonna Jackson with 1:07 remaining. The Lady Bulldogs missed a shot one possession before Polsgrove hit her game-winner.

Print Headline: ‘Ugly’ win good enough for Morrilton


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