Van Buren picks up second win of the season. The Tournament of Champions schedule is included at the end of the story.
Throughout the first half, the Van Buren Lady Pointers were locked in a tight struggle against Ozark.
The second half was a much different story. Van Buren hit nine 3-point baskets, five coming from senior guard Bailey Jones, as the Lady Pointers built a double-digit lead by the end of the third quarter en route to a 56-30 win Saturday at the Van Buren Classic.
“You have to be realistic; Ozark’s a good basketball team and they’re well-coached, they shoot the basketball very well,” Van Buren coach Chris Bryant said. “We had no misconceptions that this game was going to be easy or get out of hand at any point, and that first half just showed it.
“I was very happy with some of the adjustments the girls made at halftime and sticking with a plan and playing through cold shooting in the first half.”
The play that really jump-started the Lady Pointers actually happened right before intermission.
With Van Buren (2-1) hanging on to an 18-16 lead, the Lady Pointers worked the clock in order to get a basket before halftime. Junior guard Jamilyn Kinney, who had the ball in her hands for the majority of that possession, found an opening in the lane and released an off-balance shot which went in as time expired, putting Van Buren up four.
Then Jones, who was held scoreless in the first half, began the second half with a 3 and added another 3 moments later as Van Buren built a double-digit lead, 28-18.
Jones was far from being done. With time running out in the third, she received a pass from Kinney and launched a 3 from the left corner while being fouled. The ball hit nothing but net, and Jones went to the foul line and finished off the four-point play, putting the Lady Pointers up by 15, 38-23.
Jones began the final quarter by hitting back-to-back 3s as the lead grew to 21, 44-23. For the second half, Van Buren ended up making 9-of-14 3s while holding Ozark to just two field goals, none of which were 3s.
“Bailey and any number of those girls out there can shoot the basketball really well,” Bryant said. “You have to credit Halie Jennen for doing a great job being able to get the ball in the middle of the zone; if you go back and look, I’m sure she assisted Bailey on probably about 75 percent of the 3s she made.
“Bailey knocked them down, and I’m tickled we’ve got a player like Halie that can find a hot teammate.”
Jones led all scorers with 18 points and hit five 3s. Jennen added 13 points and three 3s as well.
“We hang our hat on our shooting, and the nights we don’t shoot it well, we’re going to have to grind defensively and make 50/50 plays, all those things that don’t show up in the stat sheet,” Bryant said. “But the nights we do shoot it well, we feel pretty good about our play.”
The top scorer for Ozark (3-1) was Lexi McClellan, who had six points.
2016 Tournament of Champions
Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 8-10
Southside High School, Forth Smith
GAME 1 — Greenwood vs. Hamilton Heights, 4 p.m.
GAME 2 — Southside vs. Howe (Okla.), 5:30 p.m.
GAME 3 — Northside vs. Huntsville Lee, 7 p.m.
GAME 4 — Van Buren vs. East Central, 8:30 p.m.
GAME 5 — Loser Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 4 p.m.
GAME 6 — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 5:30 p.m.
GAME 7 — Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.
GAME 8 — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 8:30 p.m.
GAME 9 — Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6, 1:30 p.m.
GAME 10 — Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 3 p.m.
GAME 11 — Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8, 4:30 p.m.
GAME 12 — Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 6, 6 p.m.