Carlisle’s Lady Bison won their first Goldfish Classic title last week, knocking off Lonoke County rival Lonoke in the final, 55-52.
The win avenged a 15-point loss to the Lady Rabbits in Dec. and the Goldfish Classic championship a year ago.
Jonathan Buffalo’s team improved to 12-3.
“It was a great accomplishment for my kids,” Buffalo said Sunday. “They’ve been working hard. That was one of their goals, and to get a chance to redeem themselves from what happened two weeks ago against our rival was great.
“They showed a lot of character and heart, even when Lonoke came storming back.”
The Lady Bison opened the tournament with a 50-47 win over Class 4A Stuttgart. They led after three quarters, 41-33, but the game was tied with 40 seconds left. Kiara Miller scored Carlisle’s last four points to preserve the win. Kylie Warren led Carlisle with 20 points.
“It did help us,” Buffalo said of the tough first-round match with Stuttgart. “(In the semifinals,) we came out a little flat against Newport. We were down 12-10 at the end of the first quarter and outscored them 21-3 in the second quarter.”
In the semifinals, Carlisle knocked off Newport, 59-34. Warren and Blakely Ellis led the Lady Bison with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
In the championship, Carlisle played Lonoke to 6-6 after one quarter before the Lady Bison built a 19-13 lead at the break. But the Lady Rabbits answered, using Keiunna Walker’s 3-pointer to pull within 27-26 with 1:24 left in the third quarter. However, Carlisle’s 6-0 run by DeShaye Ricks and Miller to end the third quarter made it 33-26 heading into the fourth.
Lonoke cut the difference to one again, 43-42, with 3:47 left, and took a 47-46 lead on a pair of Keiunna Walker free throws with 2:52 left. Carlisle went back ahead, 49-47, before Walker tied it at 49 with 1:42 left. Warren’s jumper in the lane lifted Carlisle by 51-49. She made nine of 10 free throws in the second half en route to a 22-point performance. Walker led all scorers with 27.
“It was a good tournament,” Buffalo said. “We had a tough draw in the first round, but my kids responded to it. We had a good three days of playing some good competition, and now we’re getting ready to go back to conference play.”
Carlisle, which played at Marvell on Tuesday, will play host to England (8-5 at press time) on Friday and will travel to Brinkley (5-7) on Monday, Jan. 8 and Hazen (1-5) on Tuesday, Jan. 9.
“England has some good athletes and one really good player in Tatayana Penister (a 5-4 junior guard),” Buffalo said. “She’s a great basketball player. They’re going to get up for us — we’re in the same county, same conference. It’s a big rivalry.
“And Monday and Tuesday are two games that count for the district tournament. Brinkley is a tough place to play, and Hazen is another rivalry game.”