This story originally ran in the Press Argus-Courier on Jan. 5, 2019.
Two big quarters carried the Alma Airedales to the Citizens Bank Airedale Classic championship on Saturday night.
Alma opened with a 20-point quarter and added 20 more in the third quarter before holding off Pea Ridge on Cejay Mann’s driving bucket with 4.2 seconds left for a 64-62 win at Charles B. Dyer Arena.
Alma (8-1) erased a first-quarter deficit with a 6-0 spurt and led 20-14 after the first quarter behind 10 points by Tanner Shelton, who had three 3-pointers.
Alma led 32-26 at the half before Pea Ridge was within, 32-31, early in the third quarter.
Shelton hit four free throws for Alma and Taelon Peter drilled four treys in a three-minute spurt to lead Alma back to a 52-43 lead after three quarters.
Peter and Nathan Whalen opened the last quarter with consecutive buckets inside for Alma’s biggest lead at 56-43. Pea Ridge answered with a 12-3 run sparked by a trio of 3-pointers by Nick Coble that had the Blackhawks within, 59-55, with 4:03 left.
Peter drove for a bucket for Alma, and Coble hit another 3-pointer to keep Pea Ridge’s deficit at 61-58 with 1:37 remaining.
Peter hit a free throw with 1:29, and Coble hit a jumper with 1:13 left to trim Alma’s deficit even more to 62-60 with 1:13 left.
After an Alma miss, Coble hit another 15-footer to tie the game at 62-62 with 41 seconds left.
Alma ran the clock down, and Mann’s knifing layup provided the margin.
Pea Ridge (14-4) missed a long jumper at the buzzer.
Peter led Alma with 23 points, with Shelton adding 17 and Mann 14.
Coble score 28 for Pea Ridge. Wilkerson added 16 points, and Carson Rhine 12.
Pea Ridge 57, Alma 34
The Pea Ridge Lady Blackhawks started the Citizens Bank Airedale Classic championship game on a hot streak and rode it to the tournament championship on Saturday.
Pea Ridge hit five of its first six shots and added a couple of free throws for a quick 12-point lead on the way to a 57-34 win over host Alma at Charles B. Dyer Arena.
Pea Ridge (15-3) scored in a variety of ways to start off with Hollyn Davis and Katelyn Swope hitting 3-pointers on the first two possessions of the game. Davis made it 8-0, grabbing a long rebound off a missed 3-pointer by Alma and converting it into a layup.
Loryn Kelley hit two free throws for Alma, but Maria Socha scored on a turn-around jumper from the baseline, Gabby Adams drove the baseline for a bucket, and Socha canned two free throws as Pea Ridge opened up a 14-2 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter.
“We wanted to start fast and play our game,” Pea Ridge head coach Heath Neal said. “Obviously, coming down here and playing teams we don’t see all the time, we wanted to see some different teams to challenge ourselves. Getting to play a well-coached team and playing in a high-class tournament like this is always fun. We got better this week.”
Alma opened zero-for-8 from the floor before Cassidy Cooper’s 3-pointer.
Alma (6-4) trimmed Pea Ridge’s lead back to 17-13 after a quarter and was within, 19-16, after Makailey Dowdy’s 3-pointer.
“I thought we kind of weathered the storm and were back in the game at 19-16,” Alma head coach Codey Mann said. “We did some good things, we just had a hard time making shots.”
Pea Ridge opened up a 33-22 lead at the half.
“We talked to them at the half, and 20 of their points were just gimmies,” Mann said. “Thirteen free throws, they scored two baseline inbounds wide open layups, and got an and-one off a steal. For us, we haven’t done that all year. We’ve been pretty good making teams earn stuff.”
Pea Ridge opened the second half with a 5-0 flurry on fast-break layups by Davis and Adams, and a single free throw from Socha for a 38-22 lead.
“This team has been outstanding all year,” Neal said. “We’ve got a bunch of senior leaders. They all mesh very well. They push each other every day in practice. I can talk to them at any point and they know exactly what we’re doing and how fast we want to play.”
Davis led Pea Ridge with 23 points. Winn added 12 points, and Socha scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Ariel Towns-Robinson scored 12 points to pace Alma. Kelley added 11.