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LITTLE ROCK - With the first half of the conference season nearing its end, the Harmony Grove Lady Cardinals are having trouble getting into the win column since coming back from Christmas break. Before taking a small sabbatical, the Lady Cardinals had won back-to-back 5-3A conference games to even their record at 2-2 in league play.
Since rolling over into the New Year, Harmony Grove is a disappointing 0-2 after falling to the eStem Lady Mets in the first-ever meeting between the schools on Tuesday night in Little Rock. Despite starting the game very strong, the Lady Cardinals fell hard 56-25 after a not so healthy second half.
â€śWe came out with good energy,â€ť Head Coach John White said. â€śThen we started pressing and just trying too hard. In the second half, I think we kind of quit, to be honest.â€ť
Harmony Grove wasted little time getting out in front to begin the contest, taking a 4-0 lead early after seniors Lexa Carpenter and Molly White hit short buckets inside. But then eStem began to battle, put pressure on and score points, quickly cutting the Lady Cardinalsâ€™ lead to 4-3 with a successful long ball.
With points hard to come by, the Lady Cardinals found themselves down by just one at 7-6 at the end of the first. The second was nearly a repeat of the first for both teams. With neither one able to pull out to a comfortable lead, eStem knocked down a couple more shots than Harmony Grove in the second quarter to take a 19-12 lead into halftime.
â€śThey forced us into doing some things that we are not used to doing (in the first half),â€ť White said. â€śWe got plenty of good looks early, but couldnâ€™t get any of them to fall and couldnâ€™t capitalize.â€ť
After playing a pretty good first half, the second was anything but exciting for Harmony Grove. Trailing by just five at the break, the Lady Cardinals hit a brick wall as eStem came out and took care of business, shutting down Harmony Grove.
With a good third quarter, eStem took a commanding 37-21 lead into the final quarter of the game. Harmony Grove missed 8 of its 10 shots from the field to start the third quarter. Carpenter and senior Laura Britt added a bucket each in the third while the rest of the Lady Cardinalsâ€™ nine points came from the foul line.
Needing a huge surge in the final eight minutes, the Lady Cardinals had no such luck as they put just four points on the board in the fourth quarter while allowing 19 more to eStem, resulting in a second straight blowout loss.
Carpenter put together a nice night, leading Harmony Grove with 11 points. Britt and sophomore Sarah Jackson each added four in the loss.
Harmony Grove shot just 20 percent from the field, hitting 7 of 35 shots including a 0 for 8 showing from 3-point land. After turning the ball over 28 times against Jessieville on Friday, the Lady Cardinals coughed up the rock 22 times on Tuesday. The Lady Mets shot 42 percent while turning the ball over just 10 times against Harmony Grove.
The Lady Cardinals will welcome Glen Rose into the Daniel Henley Fieldhouse on Friday in a much anticipated rivalry match on Friday night, a team Harmony Grove lost to by just one earlier in the year in tournament play.
â€śI would feel a lot better going into Friday if we had won tonight,â€ť White said. â€śWe feel like we can match up with Glen Rose and we obviously know that we can play with them. We just hope we play well and get after it and give ourselves a chance to win.â€ť
With the loss on Tuesday, the Lady Cardinals move their record to 7-8 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on Friday.