Cyclones roll behind 13 three-pointers

SEARCY -- Game after game this season, Russellville Coach LaShanta Johnson was hoping to see the shots start to fall.

The Cyclones have spent months working on hitting shots from beyond the arc, but they never quite fell at the rate Johnson would have liked.

In a 73-47 win over Hot Springs Lakeside in the first round of the 5A girls state tournament at Lion Arena, the shots fell -- and they fell often.

Four found the bottom of the net in the first quarter, followed by three in the second as Russellville (23-6) led Lakeside (17-11) by 13 points at halftime.

Senior Brenna Burk and junior Shyisha Willis hit two apiece in the third to extend that lead to 46-27.

And in the fourth quarter, sophomore Saraya Stroud hit two to go with one from freshman Kayna Keaster.

All together, the Cyclones hit 13 three-pointers to cruise past the Rams into the second round.

"All year, we've really focused on shooting, and we have been in a shooting slump before," Johnson said. "Tonight, we were able to get our legs up under us, get our shots up and actually execute and make our shots.

"I'm super proud of my girls for being able to get in the gym, knock those shots down and make them matter when it counts."

Willis led Russellville with five three-pointers for her 15 points. Johnson said that volume from the 5-9 guard is something she's come to expect.

"We have a shirt that says, 'Shoot like Shy,' and she lived up to that," Johnson said. "She means a lot to this program, what she's able to do on the floor."

Burk led with 20 points, while setting her teammates up with five assists.

"She's definitely a leader and that's what she does, she leads this team well, she knows when to push the pace, she knows when to slow down and she makes sure she delivers the ball to her shooters," Johnson said. "She's a great asset to our team. I make sure that the team listens to her."



After leading by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter, Mountain Home held on to defeat Benton in the final first-round game.

Mountain Home junior Laykin Moore led all scorers with 16 points to go with six rebounds.

Benton outscored Mountain Home by nine points in the third quarter thanks to the shooting of junior Lexi Duck and senior Ashley Wallace. The duo combined for 13 of the Panthers' 16 points in the quarter.

Duck led Benton with 13 points, while Wallace added nine.



Lake Hamilton turned to its defense to stymie Little Rock Christian and become the first team to advance to the semifinals.

At halftime, Little Rock Christian (21-11) held a 22-20 lead as sophomore guard Whitley Rogers scored 14 of her team's points.

Over the next half, Rogers would score five points to finish with 19, but the Warriors would add just one point to their total.

Lake Hamilton (25-7) closed the third quarter on a 14-1 run and outscored Little Rock Christian 25-6 in the second half.

Senior Brooklynn Braughton led the Wolves with 19 points. Disyah Christon added 14 points.

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