BAUXITE – Lady Miners head coach Joshua Harrison and his Bauxite Miners are no strangers to the Nashville Scrappers, playing each other nine times in the last three years, including a narrow 35-34 win at Nashville in January.
Wednesday’s 7-4A district matchup proved to be just as entertaining as the Miners escaped with a 61-57 win over Nashville, clinching a spot in the regional tournament.
“I know the type of team Nashville is,” Harrison said. “They fell from fourth to sixth [in conference] but they’re a team full of athletes.”
“I know what they are capable of doing,” Harrison added. “I was very nervous about this game.”
Senior Mary Crow led Bauxite with 20 points, junior Allison Tackett poured in 15, and sophomore Holly Willmon contributed 11 points off the bench to pace the Miners.
Bauxite jumped out to an early 18-10 lead midway through the second quarter, with Tackett and Crow providing early offense. An injury to Bauxite’s starting center, Morgan Case, gave Willmon extended minutes off the bench.
Bauxite’s offense sputtered in the second quarter, only scoring eight points in the frame and allowing Nashville to cut the deficit to two points. At the half, Bauxite led Nashville 23-21.
In the locker room, Harrison stressed coming out strong in the third quarter to his team.
“We always preach the first three or four minutes of the third quarter has got to be our time,” Harrison said. “We’ve got to take the momentum at that point and not allow another team to push out and believe they can stay in it until the end.”
Bauxite would do just that with junior Amy Etheridge knocking down a 3-pointer to start the third quarter. A Crow 3-pointer gave Bauxite a 36-28 late in the third quarter. Headed into the final frame, Bauxite had a commanding 38-28 advantage.
But like their name states, the Scrappers did just that in the fourth quarter, storming back into the game behind a barrage of 3-pointers. Unconscious from behind the arc, Nashville drilled seven 3-pointers and scored 29 points in the fourth quarter – they had 28 points through three quarters.
“They shot the ball really well from the perimeter,” Harrison said. “We allowed them to stay in the game with some things we were doing and they took advantage.”
Nashville erased its deficit and tied the game at 39. A Tackett driving layup with 5:48 remaining gave the Miners a temporary two-point lead.
Five more points by Tackett kept the Miners in the lead late in the fourth quarter. Up by six, Nashville made a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left to make it a one-possession ballgame.
Bauxite would get the ball in the hands of Crow, who knocked down critical free throws to finally put Nashville at bay.
“I thought our experience in the fourth quarter picked up,” Harrison said.
With the win, Bauxite advances to play the No. 2 seed Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs today. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:40 p.m.