HOT SPRINGS – Every team loses its last game except for the champions.
Unfortunately for Conway’s Lady Cats (27-4), they were on the losing end of the 7A State Championship game Thursday with a 66-49 loss to the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats at the Bank of Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs.
The Charging Wildcats used length to their advantage, holding Conway to just 36 percent from the field.
The Lady Cats, a team that relies on shooting from beyond the 3-point arc, struggled with hitting shots from 3-point land all game.
Conway made just seven of 28 3-poimt attempts, in part to NLR pressuring Lady Cat junior guards Myia Yelder and Asiyha Smith.
The two struggled out of the gate, scoring a combined eight points by halftime.
Yelder, who had six points at halftime, had to sit early in the first quarter after picking up two quick fouls.
By the end of the third quarter, Smith had four fouls and Yelder had three, making it tough to play comfortably.
Conway coach Ashley Nance had to sit Smith or Yelder on the bench at different times, forcing the Lady Cat offense to sputter at times.
“They got in a little bit of the foul trouble was because they were playing extremely hard and extremely passionate,” Nance said. “Maybe not smart at times, but with one of them out, it makes it difficult for the other. They feed off each other.
“There at the end, we struggled with one of them being on the bench. When you have four fouls, sure it is the fourth quarter, but you still want to be in the game. It affected them defensively.”
Smith said it was hard going against the Charging Wildcats’ guards.
“Having Myia out of the game was tough because they have four really big guards,” she said. “We have two shooters and two guards. It puts a lot of pressure on the both of us, but we like to do it together. I think when we start getting into foul trouble, and when other teams start getting an advantage, we feel a lot of pressure. We can’t play as hard.”
Yelder echoed Smith’s sentiments.
“It affected our team because Asiyha and are the main ones who dribble and have to face the pressure,” she said. “We had to pass it off to Alyssa (Netherlain) and Reagan (Roetzel) , so they had to handle. To sit on the bench, it hurt.”
Yelder led Conway with 15 points, while Smith finished with 14. They were the lone scorers in double figures for the Lady Cats.
Charging Wildcats senior Amber Hawkison led NLR with 18 points, followed by junior Demyla Brown's 17 and senior Yo'myris Morris' 15.
With the win, NLR is the reigning 7A State Champions after finishing as the runner-up last year.