Cedarville snaps three-game skid, lands in regional

George "Clay" Mitchell
Fort Smith Times Record

CEDARVILLE - Cedarville was back on the court barely five minutes after the final buzzer sounded.

The starters were still in their game jerseys, and the others were wearing their blue tops. Cedarville coach Drew Tencleve was back on the court with them going over a play. The Lady Pirates won the quarterfinal round of the 3A-1 District tournament by holding off Paris 50-39 on Tuesday night.

For Tencleve, it was a simple explanation of why his team was ready to get back out on the court.

"They're definitely dialed into what we're doing now. They want to shake off that last week of the regular season," Tencleve said. "They were ready to play last week, but the weather pushed that back.

"They think they're in the regional tournament only to find out that has changed, and we have to win a game to get to the regional."

The Lady Pirates head to Cossatot River on Wednesday for the tournament's second round.

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Cedarville lost its last three games of the season and took the No. 3 seed for the tournament. Paris and Cossatot River had two of the wins against Cedarville, who was on a three-game losing string. 

"This group wants to play every day. That's their mentality. They enjoy doing this, and they don't want it to end," Tencleve said. "Every time they get a chance to go compete, that's what they want to do."

Paris was on a four-game winning string.

The biggest key for the Lady Pirates on Tuesday night was slowing down Paris' Jadyn Hart, who had scored 23 and 25 points against Cedarville this season. Hart was limited to two points in the first half and finished with 14. 

"I thought we played much better defensively. In the past few games, one of the things we didn't do was guard," the Cedarville coach said. "We were much better at being on time with our help, did a better job not blowing our assignments, and really made it really difficult for (Paris) to get clean looks."

Cedarville's Chloe Morrow led with 17 points, and Anna Hightower added 12. Paris led briefly by one in the second quarter, but a 12-2 run pushed the Lady Pirates to a 23-15 halftime lead. Cedarville never trailed the duration of the game.

"That last week of the season, we kind of fell on our face a little bit. Overall, this was the best we've played in a long time. The worst we have shot but the best we have played," Tencleve said. "We did a much better job getting the ball to the rim and better at the free-throw line. You have to make those free throws in a close game."

Hart's breakaway steal cut the lead to 39-35 with 3:53 remaining, but Cedarville shot 9 of 10 from the line down the stretch to seal the win.

The Pirates will host Charleston on Thursday in the semifinal round of the district tournament.