HOT SPRINGS – Mount Vernon-Enola saw a first in their school’s history, making it to the 1A Girls State Championship game.
Unfortunately, the Lady Warhawks were on the losing side, falling 56-40 to Wonderview at Bank of Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs.
“I can’t say enough about these kids,” Lady Warhawk coach Adam Carlton said. “We want all our kids coming here. We’ve never been through something like this in the history of our school."
“I can’t say enough about these girls. We got knocked out last year in the semis and our goal this year was to make it back to this point. The seniors played well and fought hard. We didn’t shoot it very well, but I’m really proud of them.”
This was the fifth time this season the Lady Daredevils (38-3) defeated MVE (34-3), winning 40-38 on Dec. 15, 52-45 on Jan. 30, 54-43 on Feb. 16 in the district tournament and 58-43 in the regional tournament.
“We tried some different stuff on them,” Carlton said about playing Wonderview for a fifth time. “They came at us with something different with a few different defenses. We’ve always been a little bit different with them.
“We kind of figured whoever was going to hit shots was going to win. We’ve kind of always had that with them. We’ve gotten down to the wire a few times. We thought if we would have played them close and hit our shots, we felt we’d have a pretty good shot at it.”
Shooting was a problem for both teams with the Lady Daredevils shooting 34.9 percent, while the Lady Warhawks shot 31.4 percent.
Wonderview distanced itself in the first quarter, leading 14-6 at the end of the quarter. It pushed its halftime lead to 26-13, which caused late problems for a surging MV-E team.
The Lady Warhawks starting clawing back with a 14-11 advantage in the third, while junior Gracie Raby scored 13 in the fourth to cut the lead down to seven points with 2:50 left on the clock.
However, late fouls sent the Lady Daredevils to the line 12 times, hitting eight free throws.
“Gracie played well,” Carlton said. “We shot 3-of-21 from the 3-point line. We tried it and just couldn’t get it back over that hump. I thought if we could get it within six and get the ball back, we’d have a pretty good shot at it.
“We could never get that break. [Wonderview] hit a lot of big shots. One of their girls hit a big shot toward the end there.”
The shot was a corner 3-pointer by Lady Daredevils senior Breanna Gottsponer with 1:50 on the clock to push an 11-point lead.
That proved to be the dagger in the game to seal the championship for Wonderview.
“I felt like we just played great in the fourth quarter,” Lady Daredevils coach Jeremy Simon said. “We did what it took down the stretch, making free throws. We stepped up big when we had to have it. We didn’t always shoot well. It wasn’t a real pretty game. Sometimes, you have to grind out a win and that’s what we did.”
Raby led all scorers with 21 points, while Wonderview senior Brooke Zimmerman, making her third straight state championship appearance, led the Lady Daredevils with 19 points, followed by junior Faith Byers’ 17.
Zimmerman took home Most Valuable Players honors.