Lady Pioneers win a slugfest in Round One of the 5A State Tournament

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Report by Wes Gwaltney

When tournament season rolls around, you never know what is going to happen and the first-round matchup for the Lady Pioneers lived up to that metaphor.

Coming in as the two seed from the East, the first-round draw would give the Lady Pioneers a tough first opponent in the Little Rock Parkview Lady Patriots who would be the three seed out of the Central.

Though the Lady Pioneers would lead for nearly every minute of the ballgame, the Lady Patriots would push Batesville for all 32 minutes.

The pattern of the game would be apparent just after the opening attempt as both teams struggled to score early, but each team’s motto was apparent, score as quickly as possible.

Finally finding their footing, the two teams would trade baskets for the opening frame, with the Lady Pioneers holding the advantage after the end of one at 18-11.

Whatever both coaches told their players, the second quarter and the rest of the game was somehow a notch crazier as the ball was flying all over the court.

Batesville would go on a run to build their lead to ten, but every time, Parkview would drop it to within five then repeat the process.

This is where the record-breaking performance began for one Lady Pioneer. After scoring just six points in the opening quarter, Senior Izzy Higginbottom would go on a tear. Never scoring less than 12 in the next three frames. She added 19 in the second quarter and would give the Lady Pioneers a 39- 30 halftime lead.

The third quarter was more of the same, both teams never let up, lighting up the
scoreboard, and with a late 6-0 run to end the third, Parkview would bring the game to within seven 63-56 going into the final quarter.

Higginbottom would account for 12 points in the third and would be sitting at 37 before the last frame.

With their seasons on the line, both teams somehow took it up another notch in the fourth as 47 points were scored between the two schools.

Higginbottom alone accounted for 20 of Batesville’s 24 points in the final quarter going a staggering 12 of 14 from the free-throw line in the quarter and helped earn the Lady Pioneers a spot in the 5A quarter-finals by a final of 87-77.

Higginbottom would lead all scorers in setting a career-high 57 points in the game, Junior Taylor Rush would add 13 points, Seniors Riley Freeman and London Cuzzort would add five, Senior Kaylee Clark would account for four and Sophomore Kayla Ward would chip in three points.

The 57 points by Higginbottom breaks the state record for most points in a girl’s tournament game across all conferences in a five-player game.

The Lady Pioneers now move to the quarterfinal round as they will take on the one seed out of the West, the Vilonia Lady Eagles at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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