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Smyer dominates first half, holds off Triple A Academy to reach state championship

Farr's 21, Locke's 17 enough to hold Stallions at bay, send Lady Cats to third title game in four years

Posted: February 28, 2013 - 11:25am  |  Updated: March 1, 2013 - 1:09am
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Smyer's Jordan Locke shoots ahead of Dallas Triple A Academy's D'herica Williams during the Class 1A Division I State Semi final game on Thursday in Austin. (Zach Long)  Zach Long
Zach Long
Smyer's Jordan Locke shoots ahead of Dallas Triple A Academy's D'herica Williams during the Class 1A Division I State Semi final game on Thursday in Austin. (Zach Long)
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AUSTIN — When Jordan Locke and Kennedy Farr are both on and Smyer’s high-low offense is working, you have a dominant first half like the Lady Cats played on Thursday.

But when one or the other is on the bench, as Farr was with four fouls early in the third quarter, the game takes on a whole new tone, as was shown in the second half of Thursday’s Class 1A Division I state semifinal.

Luckily for Smyer, its first-half surge was bigger than its second-half slide, and because of that, the Lady Cats are back in the state championship after a 40-36 victory over Dallas Triple A Academy.

“We’re going to run the high-low offense, and it’s hard to run when you have the high and not the low,” Smyer coach Leland Bearden said. “Whenever Kennedy’s out, we go from a really big team to a little bitty team. I think (Triple A) took a lot of gambles when we were in foul trouble, and we got into a mode of playing not to lose instead of playing to win like we should have.”

By surviving, the Lady Cats (33-6) will play for their third state championship in four years when they meet Martin’s Mill in the title game at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The teams met for the 2010 and 2011 state crowns, with Smyer winning both times.

Triple A Academy ends its season at 28-6.

Farr led all scorers with 21 points and Locke added 17. The two Lady Cats dominated the first half, scoring 22 of their team’s 24 points en route to a 24-9 halftime lead. Defensively they held Triple A Academy to just two first-half buckets, both of which came on inside shots by Amber Browning, who led the Stallions with 17 points.

Triple A shot just 2 of 18 from the field in the first half and was 5 of 10 from the free throw line.

“We kind of got off to a slow start, and anytime you have to dig in and come from behind in a game like this it’s tough,” Triple A head coach Daryl Horton said. “We said at halftime that we weren’t as aggressive as we normally are. We weren’t as aggressive on offense or defense. That had something to do with it.”

The Stallions, however, found that aggressiveness in the second half and used it to quickly put Farr on the bench with four fouls, the fourth one coming with 5:05 left in the third quarter. Farr sat the rest of the period.

“I didn’t like leaving my teammates,” Farr said. “It was hard to watch (Triple A) try to get back in it and (Smyer) try to keep us in it.”

With Farr out, Triple A went on a 9-0 run to cut the Smyer lead to 26-22 with 1:52 left in the third period. Locke hit back-to-back buckets to temporarily squash the Stallions’ rally, but Gabrielle Gregory hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds left in the quarter to keep Triple A within striking distance at 30-24.

From there it was a battle for Smyer to stay in front. Farr started the fourth quarter and hit a layup and a put-back in the first two minutes to give Smyer a 34-26 lead, but those were the last buckets the Lady Cats scored, going the final 5:47 without hitting a shot from the field.

That’s when the turnovers really started hurting the Lady Cats. Smyer committed five of its 23 turnovers in the final five minutes, which allowed Triple A to keep the pressure on and make it a one-possession lead late in the game.

Even with Farr back in the game, however, Smyer was not as aggressive as it had been, not wanting to lose the mismatch inside.

“(Triple A) was taking a lot of gambles, and we were in such foul trouble that we got into a mode that we started playing not to lose instead of playing to win and attacking like we should have,” Bearden said.

“Just our whole mentality changed. When Kennedy is out there and Jordan is out there, our whole mentality changes. When you take either one of them out, the whole mix changes.”

Browning and Keesha Bracy took over in the fourth quarter for Triple A Academy. Browning scored six points in the period, including two free throws that made it a one-possession game with 2:41 remaining.

Free throws by Shelby McCullough and Lexie Fowler pushed the lead to 39-34 with 36 seconds left, but the Stallions answered with a jumper with 29 seconds left.

Finally, the Lady Cats were able to stop the Triple A Academy surge, getting big plays from their veterans to seal it. Locke hit a free throw that made the score 40-36, and the Stallions missed their final three shots as junior Brogan Henley grabbed the game-clinching rebound with seven seconds left.

“A lot of times in the past we’ve had girls try to hide before and not want the pressure but (the veterans) stepped up and took the pressure and did a fantastic job,” Bearden said. “I was really nervous about us starting to play not to lose it instead of to win it but they did that there at the last and I’m very proud of them.”

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CLASS 1A DIVISION I STATE SEMIFINAL

at the Frank Erwin Center, Austin

SMYER 40, TRIPLE A ACADEMY 36

SMYER — Locke 7-12, 3-8 17, Farr 8-13 5-6 21, Henley 0-1 0-0 0, Fowler 0-1 1-2 1, McCullough 0-0 1-3 1, Lee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-28 10-19 40.

TRIPLE A ACADEMY — Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Bracy 2-9 3-5 7, Bell 2-13 2-6 6, Browning 5-16 7-10 17, Gregory 2-7 2-2 6, Flores 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 11-47, 14-23 36.

Smyer 10 14 6 10 — 40

Triple A Academy 2 7 15 12 — 36

3-point goals: None. Total fouls: Smyer 17, Triple A Academy 20. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None. Records: Smyer 33-6; Triple A Academy 28-6.

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