NORTH LITTLE ROCK— With 3-pointers flying early from all directions, the Conway Lady Cats went into lockdown mode Friday at Charging Wildcat Arena.
The Conway girls, who had not played in seven days, came out firing and then grounded themselves with their zone defense on the way to a 60-38 victory over Van Buren in 7A state girls semifinal.
The Conway girls will play Fort Smith Northside or Bentonville at 6 p.m. Saturday for the right to go to Hot Springs for this weekend's state championship game.
Early on, the Lady Cats and the Lady Pointers engaged in a long-range dual at 25 feet or beyond. The Lady Cats hit four in the first quarter on the way to a 17-10 lead. The first two-point basket by either team occurred at 6:33 of the second quarter on a layup by Conway's Asiyha Smith after a steal.
The Lady Cats hit six 3-pointers in the first half in opening a 28-13 lead.
The Lady Pointers (17-11) hit three 3-pointers in the first half that were highly contested, the Lady Cats (26-3) adjusted their defense to the corners the second half in steadily pulling away from a team they beat by nine earlier in the season.
"Although we had good offense, I thought we won on the defensive end," said Conway coach Ashley Nance. "I thought our 1-3-1 zone was really good today. Our goal was not uncontested shots and to hold them below 50 and five 3's. I think they hit six."
"They have a lot of people who can hit the deep 3 and they can get away from you in a hurry," said Van Buren coach Chris Bryant. "They (the Lady Cats) are like sharks in the water. When they sense blood, they turn it loose."
The Lady Cats focused more on the inside the second half with penetrating drives by Myia Yelder and Asihya Smith and feeds to Cardrina Nolen. Conway hit five of six free throws the third quarter in opening a 44-22 lead, leaving the fourth period to mopup time.
Smith led Conway with 23 points, including 12 of 14 at the foul line. Yelder added 14 points and Nolen added nine.