The Orange Leader
Struggling on the offensive end, the Bridge City Lady Cardinals turned to a fierce defense to turn back the Liberty Lady Panthers 35-29 in Class 3A Region III bidistrict playoff action at Tiger Gym Tuesday night.
The Lady Cardinals (31-5) limited the Lady Panthers (12-9) to just one field goal in the game’s final eight minutes and rode the muscle of senior post Kelsey Fults in the fourth.
Fults, who had a big double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, scored five of her points in the fourth.
Fults bruised her way inside for a bucket with 6:20 left to give BC a 30-26 edge. At the 3:55 mark, she was able to convert a three-point play to up the advantage to 33-27.
Junior Alexus Henry, who chimed in with 13 points and six rebounds, went coast-to-coast for a layup to make it 35-27 with 2:42 remaining.
Lady Panther post player Destiny Robinson scored the game’s final points with a rebound and putback with 2:36 left.
The Lady Cardinals turned it over three times in the last 2:36 but were still able to subdue Liberty with their play on the defensive end.
“We struggled on the offensive end but we were able to hold our composure and we got after it defensively,” said Lady Cardinal coach Jennifer Willis. “The kids really stepped up on the defensive end and the kids made some great plays there in the fourth quarter. Kelsey (Fults) was huge for us in that fourth-quarter stretch with her points and rebounds.”
Bridge City will now move on to the area round likely Friday night against West Columbia.
Guard Tiffany Arceneaux led the Lady Panthers with 11 points and had seven rebounds. However, she was held scoreless in the second half thanks to Henry’s defense along with Caylin Choate and Sarah Acosta.
“That kid (Arceneaux) is excellent,” said Willis. “Alexus was able to slow her down in the second half and we did several switch-offs on her that helped and I think we just wore her down.”
Rekedra Gilmore and Taylor Walker scored five points apiece for Liberty. Aleea Fairchild and Trenecia Lafleur had nine rebounds apiece for the Lady Panthers.
The Lady Cardinals finished with a slim 34-33 rebounding edge.
Bailee Bacon scored five points for BC while Choate and Shayla Bratton pulled down five rebounds apiece.
The Lady Cardinals forced Liberty into 25 turnovers while BC finished with 18.
BC went 9-of-17 from the free-throw line while the Lady Panthers converted just 3-of-8.
Behind seven points by Arceneaux, Liberty claimed a 12-8 lead in the first quarter but only scored 17 the rest of the way.
Henry scored five of her points in the second period to help BC crawl back to a 18-18 tie at intermission.
Henry scored four more points in the third and Bacon drained a big three-pointer to help BC to a 28-26 heading to the fourth.