Lady Blue Devils lose thriller

West Memphis falls in double overtime

By Billy Woods WM School District

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — It was a game the Lady Devils wanted so badly to win. They competed harder than they had all year. Made more clutch plays than they had in any game this year and got some of the best performances out of stars and less-likely reserves all season. Still, it wasn’t enough. North Little Rock 85, West Memphis 80. It took two overtimes. The game featured 64 free throws by both teams, five players fouled out, two players on opposite sides combined for 64 points and even the referees agreed it was one of the most intense, fun games they’d seen this year. For Lady Devil fans who made the trip here, it was agonizing. Yet, in the end who in their right mind would have been upset with the way the West Memphians played? “It was exciting,” said an emotionally distraught Lady Devils head coach Shelia Burns. “Momentum kept switching back and forth. It’s just a shame we were a little short at the end.” West Memphis’ Sable Greer played the game of her life in scoring a career-high 31 points, which included a 13 of 15 shooting effort from the free-throw line. She couldn’t be stopped by the North Little Rock defenders. But she was barely outplayed by North Little Rock’s own point guard dynamo in senior all-stater Kyra Collier, who scored a game-high 33 points, and oddly enough, none of those points came in the second overtime. The two-player duo, which saw Greer and Collier match each other shot for shot and dramatic moment for dramatic moment, was lauded by both coaches after the game. “We figured the guards would have to cancel each other out, but who knew it was going to be that entertaining?” Burns added. “Those two absolutely put on a show. Both of them were awesome to watch.” Where do you start in explaining the outcome? North Little Rock (15-4 overall, 3-1 in the 7A/6A-East Conference) scored the final 12 points of the first quarter to take a commanding 22-14 lead into the second stanza. The hosts kept up the pressure in the second quarter, forcing 12 West Memphis turnovers in the first half to lead 39-29 at intermission. But Greer scored 12 points over the third and fourth quarters to help force a 62-62 tie at the end of regulation. As heroic as Greer was, the Lady Devils (14-4, 3-1) had to feel their fortunes were tossed out the window when she fouled out with 3:12 left in the first overtime on a charging call. And it got even worse for Lady Devil hopes just one minute later when senior center LaShala Saine fouled out. Those two eventualities still did not deter the West Memphis girls. Enter Taylor Johnson, who has played sparingly the last month or two, but who came off the bench to swish four three-pointers on her way to 16 points. She scored seven points in succession in just over a minute in the first OT to give her team a 71-69 lead with 44 seconds left. “Taylor was great off the bench,” said Burns. “All season long we thought she was capable of doing what she did tonight. But she wasn’t showing it in practice.” Collier, who at one point sank 10 straight free throws, hit two charities to tie it once again with 34 seconds left and then West Memphis senior guard Anquanetta Chatt scored her only two points of the night on a layup with 14 seconds left which looked like it was going to be a game-winner. But North Little Rock’s Amber Hawkison hit a 10-foot jumper with three seconds left to force the game into a second OT. North Little Rock finally shook off the Lady Devils in the second overtime after the visitors tied the score twice. Mackenzie Tillman gave the Lady Cats an 84-80 lead with 45 seconds left and Yo’Miris Morris sealed it with another free throw with 25 seconds to play. “We’re taking nothing but positive from this game,” Burns added. The Lady Devils hit 21 of 28 free throws for 75 percent, a season-best effort. “This was just a fun game to coach,” said North Little Rock head coach Daryl Fimple. “Back and forth all the way. I think the fans got their money’s worth.” Saine scored 15 points and she had nine rebounds. Tillman added 19 points for North Little Rock and Hawkison hit 17. The Lady Devils return home Friday night against Mountain Home.

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