LITTLE ROCK - There has never been a sports team that strives off having its teeth kicked in by opponents. For the Harmony Grove Cardinals, they are not a fan of it either. But on Friday, the first game back from Christmas break, the Cardinals welcomed Jessieville into Haskell, but walked away battered and bruised after getting mauled by the Lions.
The Cardinals actually made a game of it after trailing by a large margin halfway through the contest. Sitting at 3-2 in 5-3A conference play heading into Tuesday’s battle with eStem in Little Rock, Harmony Grove took advantage early and never looked back, routing the Mets 60-46.
“I thought this was exactly the kind of game we needed to bounce back after losing to Jessieville,” Head Coach Dexter Hendrix said. “EStem is a very talented team and a very athletic team. To get a win against a team like that and on the road is big.”
Harmony Grove began to put the hurt on the Mets literally from the opening tip. After taking the game’s first possession, talented and athletic guard Drake Wilks put the Cardinals on top 2-0 with a short jumper.
The Cardinals flew out to an early 6-0 lead after big man Hayden Burchfield added a big dunk and Wilks collected his second basket of the contest in the first quarter.
After putting together one of the best first quarters of the year, the Cardinals coasted into the second quarter with a nice 23-11 lead. Wilks played a big role in the Cardinals’ early success, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to end the first quarter before adding a third to open the second.
Freshman forward Jake Scoggins put the Cardinals up even bigger at 32-16 with a big two-point field goal in the second quarter to help guide Harmony Grove to a 34-16 halftime lead.
Wilks threw together a monster first half for Harmony Grove, scoring 13 in the first 16 minutes for the Cardinals.
“I thought Wilks, Mitch (Scoggins) and Gabe (Richard) really stepped up big tonight,” Hendrix said. “[eStem] put some really good pressure on us. We were able to counter that with those three guys.”
After dominating the first half, the Cardinals found themselves in a bit of a fight in the second, despite being up 18 at the break. EStem quickly cut into the Cardinals’ lead at 38-25 in the third quarter. The key to Harmony Grove’s third-quarter success was the good play and scoring ability of Mitch Scoggins. In the third quarter alone, Scoggins tallied 10 points to help keep the Cardinals in control late with a 48-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Mets continued to battle hard and pulled the score to within 13 at 55-42, but could not get any closer as the Cardinals put up 12 in the fourth quarter to end the contest at 60-46. EStem did outscore Harmony Grove in the final eight minutes, 16-12.
After starting very strong, the Cardinals never quit or looked back as they finished the night shooting 51 percent from the field, knocking down 23 of 45 shots. Wilks led the Cardinals with 17 in the win while Mitch Scoggins threw in 15. Talented shooter Bryce Sossamon added a quiet 10 points in Harmony Grove’s much-needed win.
Harmony Grove was without Burchfield for most of the game due to foul trouble, something Hendrix was not too fond of throughout the game.
“I thought Hayden got picked on a little bit tonight,” Hendrix said, “but I thought he did a good job in there and he was the biggest cheerleader on the bench when he wasn’t in the game. He really cares about the team winning.”
The Cardinals move their overall record to 9-7 on the year and 4-2 in conference play. On Friday, the Cardinals will play host to their arch rivals Glen Rose, a team that has struggled this season.
“Glen Rose will be ready for us, just like any other Glen Rose/Harmony Grove game,” Hendrix said. “They will be up and prepared for us so we have to be ready and prepared because it doesn’t matter what their record is. We have to be ready for that game and try to get another win to end the first round of conference.”
Opening tip is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday.