Lady Pirates settle for fourth place in holiday tourney

Playing three days in a row is tough for any basketball team. Playing that brutal schedule while hosting a tournament and having to face higher classification opposition is nearly impossible.
Playing that many days in a row, going up against larger schools each day and entertaining seven other squads with a relatively young team is…well, it’s the situation in which Drew Central’s Lady Pirates found themselves last week in the Commercial Bank Southeast Arkansas Holiday Basketball Tournament.
DC fared quite well through it all, though, downing Class 5A Mills University Studies 56-28 in last Wednesday’s first round before being edged by former tournament winner Little Rock McClellan, another 5A school, 59-58 in overtime Thursday and simply running out of gas in the third-place game against 4A Dumas on Friday, falling to the Ladycats 64-47 at Drew Central Gymnasium.   
“I’m proud of the way we competed,” Drew Central head girls’ basketball coach Michael Goad said. “We improved throughout the week. We will be a better team because of the competition and back-to-back nights.
“We are still a work in progress, but I really believe we will turn the corner going into conference play.”
That recent experience might still prove helpful for the Lady Pirates down the road, but Tuesday night they tipped off the 2018 portion of their schedule by dropping a 49-30 decision to Warren, another 4A school, at home. That loss dropped DC’s overall record to 5-9, 2-5 in Class 3A4A, District 12.
Drew Central will continue with the Arkansas Activities Association’s “blended” league schedule by hosting Hamburg at 5 p.m. Friday before heading just up the street to play crosstown rival Monticello on the road next Tuesday.
Senior Amaya Partman scored 15 points, hitting a trio of three-point shots and finishing with a perfect night from the free-throw line to lead the Lady Pirates over Mills last Wednesday. Drew Central jumped out to an 18-4 lead after eight minutes on the Lady Comets and added to that advantage with a 15-6 explosion in the second period to take a 23-point bulge into the halftime locker room.
Mills’ best quarter was the third but the Lady Pirates still outscored the visitors from Little Rock by five points. A 10-7 fourth period helped DC coast to the easy first-round victory.
Sophomore Darbee Forte and junior Charlayah Ridgell also reached double figures for the Lady Pirates in the win over Mills. Forte netted 12 and Ridgell chipped in with 10 points as nine Lady Pirates scored.
The next night, DC’s old nemesis—missed free throws—stymied the Lady Pirates. The Lady Pirates were a paltry 4-for-10 from the charity stripe in the overtime period, finishing the game hitting only seven of 18 free throws, and still only lost by one point.
The McClellan-Drew Central game was back-and-forth, quarter wise. The Lady Lions jumped out to a 15-9 lead after eight minutes, only to see the Lady Pirates bounce back with a 15-5 second period that cut McClellan’s lead to six at intermission.
The Lady Lions were hot coming out of the locker rooms, scoring 20 points while allowing Drew Central only seven but the Lady Pirates drew even at the end of regulation with an 18-7 surge of their own in the fourth quarter. In the overtime, McClellan sophomore Brittney Patterson took over, scoring six of her game-high 25 points and keeping DC at bay.
Senior Breannah Linely and junior Gabby Kaine were the only DC scorers in extra time, Linely netting five of her team-high 17 points and Kaine scoring four of her 11. Forte also reached double figures against McClelland for the Lady Pirates, adding 12 points to the DC total.
Saturday afternoon, a worn-out bunch of Lady Pirates were no match for Dumas, which improved to 11-2. Only five Drew Central players managed to find the scoring column but three were in double figures. Ridgell led the way with 16 points, Forte added 12 and Linely chipped in with 10.
Tuesday at Drew Central Gymnasium, the Lady Pirates just could not find their shooting touch in the defeat to Warren. Missed opportunity after missed opportunity had DC down 16-8 after one quarter and 28-15 at intermission.
The Lady ’Jacks held their hosts in single digits in each period but Goad just shook his head at the layups and under-the-basket shots that were off the mark by his squad. Ridgell was the only Lady Pirate to reach double figures, finishing with 11 points.

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