Jaida Harden of Star City puts up a shot against Alivia Huell of Malvern on Saturday in Arkadelphia. (Special to The Commercial/Mike Tadlock)
ARKADELPHIA – The Malvern Lady Leopards knocked off the Star City Lady Dogs 54-40 in the championship game of the 4A South Regional inside the Bill Vining Arena at Ouachita Baptist University.
“It has been a war the last two weeks,” Malvern head coach Jess Martin said, “between our conference and this region.
“The four teams in this region are probably as good as any in the state. We will get energized and make a run next week.”
With the win, Malvern is awarded the No. 1 seed in the 4A state tournament. Star City earns the No. 2 seed. The Lady Bulldogs will play either Brookland or Newport at Cave City next week.
Heading into the third quarter, Malvern was a head 25-22 but a 16-8 run, including six points from junior Alivia Huell, gave them an 11-point lead.
Junior Tiffany Murdock chipped in with a three-pointer, a baseline jumper and a free throw. Malvern lead 41-30 at the end of the third quarter.
“We ran every type of defense we could think of,” Star City head coach Becky Brown said. “And they shot it from wherever.
“They shot the ball well, they rebounded well and they just played a great game.”
Junior Akasha Westbrook led Malvern with 16 points. Junior guard Tiffany Murdock contributed with 10 points and Huell chipped in with eight.
Malvern had 14 offensive rebounds.
Star City got to off to fairly good start, leading 10-6 in the first quarter. A basket from Kindra Redix gave the Lady Bulldogs the four-point lead, but shortly after that Malvern went to a half-court trap defense that forced a couple of turnovers.
“Our kids stepped up on defense too,” Martin said. “We started getting more rebounds and controlling the boards and limit their second-chance opportunities.”
A three-pointer from Raven Baker with about 20 seconds left tied the game at 13 just before the first quarter ended.
Senior Tyeshia Harris led Star City with 10 points. Redix, senior Alexis Bullard and sophomore Nikitia Wainwright all had eight points.