Van Buren wins its first outing at Tournament of Champions.
Van Buren made quite an impression in the school’s first-ever Tournament of Champions game.
The Lady Pointers scored 26 points in the first quarter, making 6-of-7 shots from 3-point range in that span, as they went on to cruise past Tulsa East Central, 56-40, Thursday in the opening round of the TOC at Southside Gym.
“I just appreciate the effort and the heart the kids played with,” Van Buren coach Chris Bryant said. “That was a very, very good basketball team we played (Thursday) and I just appreciated the battle and the fight the kids had.”
Van Buren (3-1) moved to Friday’s semifinals, where the Lady Pointers faced Northside. The other semifinal pits Howe against Hamilton Heights (Tenn.).
It was a tone-setter from the get-go for the Lady Pointers on Thursday, as they scored the game’s first seven points on their way to building their 26-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. They also led by 20 early in the second quarter, 29-9.
Van Buren scored just 12 points combined through the second and third quarters, but still held a sizable lead.
“Shooting the basketball is what we hang our hat on,” Bryant said. “We think if we get opportunities to get people free, that they’re going to make them sooner or later and (Thursday), we made them right off the bat and did a great job finding each other open.
“They also did a good job managing that second quarter for about five minutes when (senior guard) Halie Jennen picked up her second foul. We tried to make it to halftime with her having two, so I was very proud of the way the kids handled that situation.”
With the Lady Pointers up by 10, 44-34, inside the four-minute mark of the final quarter, they got the job done at the foul line. Van Buren hit all eight of its free-throw attempts down the stretch, six of those coming from junior point guard Jamilyn Kinney.
The Lady Pointers went 14-of-16 from the line for the game (87.5 percent).
Kinney ended up leading all scorers with 28 points, and she had four 3’s while hitting all 10 of her foul shot opportunities. In addition, Kinney recorded four assists.
“I think when we go back to the first quarter when we got off to such a great start, she would be instrumental in getting those girls a lot of those really good looks and she showed (Thursday) why she’s the best point guard in the state,” Bryant said of Kinney. “She makes people better.”
Jennen also hit double figures in scoring with 11 points. She grabbed six rebounds, as did senior forward Taylar Sutton, who blocked two shots as well.
MyKayla Dumas scored 13 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for East Central, which faced Huntsville (Ala.) Lee in the consolation-round game