Panthers fall in heartbreaker to open South Conf. action
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.”
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.