Pan­thers fall in heart­breaker to open South Conf. ac­tion

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­courier.com

TEXARKANA — Open­ing 5A South Con­fer­ence ac­tion against the Texarkana Ra­zor­backs on the road, the Ben­ton Pan­thers would lose a heart­breaker in Satur­day’s make-up game with Fri­day’s post­poned due to threat­en­ing weather.

Up 51-49 af­ter sopho­more Cameron Har­ris’ 1 of 2 free throws with nine sec­onds re­main­ing in the game, the Pan­thers couldn’t weather Texarkana ju­nior Jor­dan Jones’ 22-foot 3-pointer to put the Ra­zor­backs up for good with just un­der a sec­ond re­main­ing.

“A re­ally, re­ally tough loss on the road,” Ben­ton Coach Dex­ter Hen­drix said. “It was an in­cred­i­ble shot by the Texarkana point guard.”

A tie game (11-11) af­ter one quar­ter, the Pan­thers (9-4, 0-1 South) picked up their play in the sec­ond, outscor­ing the Ra­zor­backs (8-4, 1-0) 15-8 to take a 26-19 lead into the break, helped by se­nior Ethan Hilk­ert’s 11 first-half points.

“Over­all, I thought the first half we did a great job on the glass, con­trolled the boards, and that’s a hard thing to do against Texarkana,” Hen­drix said.

But, Texarkana would chip away at that lead in the third quar­ter, outscor­ing the Pan­thers 21-17, but Ben­ton still held a 43-40 ad­van­tage go­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter.

“We started to get beat on the glass and they had a few ex­tra op­por­tu­ni­ties from re­bound­ing,” Hen­drix said. “They kind of got back in the game by us not fin­ish­ing

plays. We gave them just enough room leav­ing it open and they made us pay for it.”

De­spite the loss, Hen­drix said he liked see­ing his team keep the high-scor­ing Ra­zor­backs, av­er­ag­ing 70 points per game in­clud­ing some very high out­puts lately, to 18 un­der their av­er­age.

“The big­gest bright spot was we con­trolled the tempo,” Hen­drix said. “Texarkana is a team that has scored 80 and 90 points the last two games. We def­i­nitely con­trolled the tempo and looked good at times break­ing the press. We just didn’t fin­ish plays.”

Hilk­ert fin­ished with a team-high 15 points while fel­low se­nior Colton Phillips had 13. Se­nior Jalen Cox fol­lowed with nine, Har­ris eight and sopho­more Gabe Ge­orge had four.

The Pan­thers re­turn home Tues­day to take on the Sheri­dan Yel­low­jack­ets Tues­day at Ben­ton Arena. The Yel­low­jack­ets up­set the Lake Hamil­ton Wolves on

Fri­day and stand at 8-4 over­all, “Se­nior 1-0 in con­fer­ence for­ward Tyler ac­tion.

Cac­cia­tori is a tremen­dous

player,” Hen­drix said of Sheri­dan’s stud. “They had a big win (Fri­day) at Lake Hamil­ton. We have to learn how to work through ad­ver­sity, grow from it, learn from it and bounce back against a strong, well-coached Sheri­dan team on Tues­day.”

GREG Davis/spe­cial to The Sa­line Courier

Ben­ton sopho­more Cameron Har­ris, 2, puts up a shot dur­ing the Sa­line County Shootout early last week against ri­val Bryant. Har­ris scored eight points in a 52-51 loss to Texarkana on the road Satur­day.

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