Ben­tonville High falls short

Tigers’ try at per­fect day ends on last-sec­ond play.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE CAPSHAW

SPRING­DALE — Sev­eral sec­onds af­ter the fi­nal horn sounded, Kam’ron MaysHunt timed his leap per­fectly.

The Ben­tonville High se­nior el­e­vated high above a pair of de­fend­ers at the goal line and was able to get the fin­ger tips from his out­stretched right arm on the ball. He tipped it to team­mate Jay­den Lou­d­er­milk, but two more de­fend­ers were

there to slap the ball from his grasp.

The play that be­gan with one sec­ond re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion ended with the ball fall­ing to the field turf at Jar­rell Wil­liams Bull­dog Sta­dium. It ended the Tigers’

at­tempt at a per­fect run through pool play at the South­west Elite 7-on-7 Show­case on Fri­day.

The Tigers fin­ished 7-1 on Fri­day to re­ceive a first-round bye as the No. 5 over­all seed in to­day’s bracket play and will play at 10:30 a.m. All of to­day’s games will be played on Shiloh Christina’s cam­pus with the cham­pi­onship game sched­uled for 5 p.m. at Cham­pi­ons Sta­dium.

“We had one sec­ond left and took a shot,” said Ben­tonville coach Jody Grant. “We al­most com­pleted it there, but didn’t. It was still fun. Two good foot­ball teams go­ing at it. That’s what this is all about.”

Mays-Hunt was the Tigers’ of­fen­sive cat­a­lyst through­out the day, and es­pe­cially dur­ing the 37-30 loss against Aurora (Ill.) Chris­tian, which fin­ished run­ner- up in this two- day event a year ago. The Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville base­ball com­mit­ment caught all five of Ben­tonville’s touch­down passes from Nathan Lyons dur­ing the game. He caught a seven-yard touch­down re­cep­tion over the mid­dle and added a two-point con­ver­sion catch to even the score at 30-30 with 25 sec­onds re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion.

It was Mays-Hunt’s short­est touch­down of the game as he sprin­kled in a 10-yarder with three 40-yard touch­down grabs. Two came on the first play of a pos­ses­sion as Mays-Hunt out sprinted the en­tire Ea­gles’ sec­ondary each time the Tigers’ needed a mo­men­tum-swing­ing play.

“Ob­vi­ously, Kam’ron Mays-Hunt is one of the best play­ers in the state,” Grant said. “When we need a play, he’s our guy. To me and our staff, we know there’s not many peo­ple who can cover him and that’s been proven here to­day.”

Ben­tonville drew ar­guably one of the tough­est pools of the three-pool, 27-team tour­na­ment that fea­tures teams from six states. Prior to the loss, the Tigers slipped by Fort Branch ( Ind.) Gib­son South­ern 24-22 and later out­gunned pre­vi­ously un­beaten Owasso ( Okla.) High 31-19 and Ohio State ver­bal pledge Joshua Proc­tor, a four-star safety who also shined at re­ceiver in the tour­ney.

“When I saw who was in this pool, I was ex­cited,” Grant said. “You want to play the good ones in pool play, just to see where you’re at. If you’re hav­ing suc­cess against tough teams in pool play, then you feel like you can have suc­cess in the bracket play.”

Fayetteville is the only

other North­west Arkansas team to earn a first- round bye in bracket play. The Pur­ple’Dogs fin­ished 6-1-1 to earn the No. 3 over­all seed. They lost 22-18 to No. 2 seed Lit­tle Rock Chris­tian and tied top-seeded Bro­ken Ar­row 1818. Other byes were re­ceived by sec­ond- seeded and de­fend­ing cham­pion Bixby (Okla.) High and fourth-seeded Aurora Chris­tian.

Host Shiloh Chris­tian had a solid open­ing day by fin­ish­ing 6-2 de­spite the ab­sence of pro­jected start­ing quar­ter­back Lan­don Brown, who was play­ing in a base­ball tour­na­ment. Sopho­more Eli Reece, the brother of for­mer Saints quar­ter­back Con­nor Reece, led the of­fen­sive charge while ju­nior safety Micah But­ton trig­gered the de­fense. The sev­enth-seeded Saints open bracket play against No. 26 Gen­try at 9 a.m. to­day.

“He did a great job even though he’s new to high school foot­ball,” said Shiloh Chris­tian coach Jeff Con­away. “I’m very ex­cited about our im­prove­ment on both sides of the foot­ball. I felt like to­day was a day that we were re­ally chal­lenged against some teams that re­ally forced us to get un­com­fort­able, but as the day went on, our guys re­ally re­sponded well, kept their en­ergy and fin­ished the day strong.”

NWA Demo­crat Gazette/SPENCER TIREY

Kam’Ron Mays-Hunt of Ben­tonville High catches a pass Fri­day against Aurora Chris­tian dur­ing the South­west Elite 7-on-7 tour­na­ment at Jar­rell Wil­liams Bull­dog Sta­dium in Spring­dale.

NWA Demo­crat Gazette/SPENCER TIREY

Spring­dale High quar­ter­back Layne Hutchins throws to a re­ceiver Fri­day dur­ing the South­west Elite 7-on-7 tour­na­ment in Spring­dale.

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