By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
Entering action with a short bench and facing a dangerous league opponent, the Earle Lady Bulldogs found a way to persevere. Defensively, Earle (16-7 overall, 9-3 2A-3) was excellent, allowing Marked Tree to hit just 14 of their 42 field goal attempts in a 66-20 home win. Digging deeper, Earle held their visitors to just a pair of makes in the game’s first and second quarters, before pitching a shutout in the fourth quarter. “I thought we did a pretty good of playing defense. I felt like we could do that if we cut back on some silly fouls and stuff,” said third-year Earle head coach Corey Garrett. “If the officials let us play a little bit, then we were going to get out and pressure them a little bit and cause some turnovers.” Earle completed the season sweep against Marked Tree despite dressing out just eight players. Despite the reduced numbers, the Lady Bulldogs got a lift from all eight. LaDerycha Childs led all scorers with 25 points, but Earle didn’t get less than Paige McFee and Aundrea Allen’s six points. Cadonna Childs scored eight points and had a game-high 10 rebounds, Tekelia Baker, Janae Bowers and Michelle Smith all hit for seven each. Earle was quick out of the box, scoring the game’s first 9 points before Marked Tree hit its first field goal with 4:31 left in the quarter. The Lady Bulldogs would lead 20-6 after the opening frame on the strength of seven turnovers from the Lady Indians. Turnovers continued to be a theme in the second quarter, as well. Earle forced 11 more to push ahead 35-10 as the teams headed to the lockers. Marked Tree had its best offensive period of the night in the third quarter as the Lady Indians shot 10 of 18 from the floor, but Earle was nearly as effective, canning 9 of 20, including 8 of Childs’ game-high total. It was Childs that gave Earle their first 30-point lead of the night, scoring on a layup with 5:51 left in the third period and Earle led 53-20 after three. Playing with a limited roster could potentially turn the fourth quarter into a tricky situation, but Earle was up the challenge as the hosts allowed Marked Tree no points in the period to clinch the 66-20 victory. “Having eight players like we had tonight, that means we couldn’t press like I would have wanted to,” explained Garrett. “We started off in the zone, but it didn’t take long for us to switch over and get into the press. I was really more concerned about fouls with eight players dressed out, but we did a good job there, too.” Earle will stay in action tonight when they host Riverside. The school from the Searcy area will come to Earle for four games, with the junior high girls squad tipping at approximately 4 p.m., followed by the junior high boys, the varsity girls and then varsity boys.