Siloam Springs Herald Leader
Panthers making their move
Siloam Springs knocks off Greenbrier in key 5A-West game
Siloam Springs moved to the front of the pack of the crowded and competitive 5A-West Conference.
Siloam Springs gutted out a 51-47 win over Greenbrier on Friday, Feb. 10, to move to 16-8 overall and 8-2 in league play. Coupled with Greenwood’s win over Harrison on Friday, Siloam Springs was now one game in front of the Goblins (17-8, 7-3) and two in front of Greenbrier (12-12, 6-4), which came into the game one game back, heading into Tuesday’s game at Greenwood. Results were not available at presstime.
There’s still a long way to go for the Panthers, but everyone associated with the program understood the significance of the big win Friday.
“Honestly we don’t talk to the team a lot about first place or conference this. We’ll come in the next couple of days and talk about Greenwood (on Tuesday),” said Siloam Springs coach Tim Stewart. “I know I have trouble focusing on one thing at a time, much less 16-year-old boys. We don’t talk anything up about conference race but they know. At the end of the day we’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing. Defensively tonight we held a really good Greenbrier team — really well coached — to 14 points in a half and did that without some of our key players.”
Nate Vachon scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the first half but his 1-2 scoring punch teammate Dalton Newman had to sit out much of the game because of foul trouble.
With Newman on the bench, Greenbrier focused in on Vachon, who didn’t score another field goal but hit eight of 10 free throws in the second half.
When Newman was in the game, he played the point of Siloam Springs’ 3-2 zone defense and did well, his coach said, adding that part of Newman’s foul trouble comes with being aggressive on defense.
“Super proud, we had some key things we needed to see on defense,” Stewart said. “Dalton’s the point of our zone. We needed more from him, we needed better from him and he really came through tonight at the point of our zone.”
Siloam Springs, which led by as many as 16 points in the first half, watched Greenbrier whittle its lead down to 26-21 in the third quarter before getting the gap back to 10 going into the fourth.
Siloam Springs led by 10 again with 43.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter after Spence corralled a loose ball and scored a layup and Levi Fox and Nathan Hawbaker each hit a pair of free throws.
Greenbrier’s Aidan Berry made it interesting though, banking in a 3-pointer early in the fourth and then hitting three straight treys in the final 36 seconds, including a deep one as the final seconds ticked off.
“How bout him? He’s the real deal,” Stewart said of Berry. “He got the first one off the glass and then the second one, you could tell he was on fire, and then what do you do? Just don’t foul him. We guarded him.”
Prior to Berry’s fourth-quarter uprising, the Panthers had done a solid job on him, limiting him to just two points. He finished with 14 points, while Jace Dunlap had 11.
“(Berry) shot the ball well, got us closer,” said Greenbrier coach Mike Simmons. “But I thought when the game started, I thought they had a whole lot more intensity than we did, getting on the floor, rebounding the basketball, loose balls, they set the tone early and got that lead. We had to play catch-up the whole night.”
It was a vast difference from Greenbrier’s 51-41 win against Siloam Springs in Greenbrier on Jan. 13.
“Their defense is really hard to score against,” Simmons said. “It’s really tough. They give you one shot, it’s usually contested and they do a great job of rebounding the basketball. Our place we got off to a really hot start and were able to continue that. Here we just never could get into a groove until late; by the end it was too late.”
Newman added eight points for Siloam Springs, while Spence had seven and Fox and Hawbaker each had six.
“Coach Simmons gave me probably one of the best compliments, and it was about everybody knows Dalton and Nate are good. But he said ‘your other players are the most improved’ and we believe that too,” Stewart said. “There’s a piece of that is just confidence, but there’s a work ethic and a belief and a trust that you have to have in team sports. That’s a really big compliment to give Jaxson, Levi, Cam (Blackfox) and Hawbaker.”
Siloam Springs is back at home
on Friday with a key home game against Russellville. The Panthers defeated the Cyclones in Russellville 4538 on Jan. 20. Siloam Springs will then host Van Buren on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in a rematch of a recent 36-34 Panthers’ win at Van Buren on Feb. 6.
“It’s every night,” Stewart said. “If we don’t bring it… one of our biggest statements is we don’t fear anybody on our schedule, but we respect everybody and we’re smart enough to know we’ve got to do our best to come out on top. Some nights it takes a little more than our best. It takes the ball bouncing right and a couple of tough plays here and there. I was really proud.”
Siloam Springs 54, Alma 36
Siloam Springs remained in a tie for first place in the 5A-West Conference with a win at Alma on Tuesday night.
The Panthers led 13-11 after the first quarter and 28-25 at halftime. Siloam Springs took control of the game by outscoring Alma 11-4 in the third quarter to take a 39-29 lead going into the fourth, where the Panthers outscored the Airedales 15-7.
Nate Vachon led the Panthers (15-8, 7-2) with 22 points, while Dalton Newman had 15.
Easton Boggs led Alma (4-18, 1-7) with 14 points.
“Really proud of the kids effort and execution playing their third game in four days,” coach Tim Stewart said. “Defensively we’ve been able to keep teams off balance and out of rhythm and in the second half we really smothered Alma. Our rebounding and physicality was much improved in the last two games which is huge. Exciting to see Hawbaker, Fox and Spence adding to the offensive punch of late. We feel confident that we’re going to finish the second round of conference strong.”