The Times (Northeast Benton County)

Blackhawks fall to Huntsville Eagles


HUNTSVILLE — Kayden McCubbin did not get off to the start he wanted, but he ended Friday night’s game with an exclamatio­n point.

The Huntsville junior picked up two quick first-quarter fouls and was forced to the bench in the 4A-1 Conference clash against Pea Ridge with the game barely two minutes old.

With his team trailing by 8 points early in the fourth quarter, McCubbin dominated, scoring 10 of his game-high 18 points in the final 4:48 as the Eagles claimed a 53-48 home win to keep their league record perfect.

“He’s very important to our gameplan,” Huntsville coach River Gosvener said. “He’s a great player, great defensive player, just a big part of what we do. It’s not the way we wanted to start the game, but we were able to get through it with him over here sitting by us. When he came back in, he played smart and made gamewinnin­g play-after-play on both ends.”

Pea Ridge (11-8, 2-2 4A-2) built a 42-34 lead with just over seven minutes left on an off-balance shot by junior Blackhawk Josh Turner that kissed off the glass. That was the last points by the Blackhawks for the next five minutes.

Over that time frame, Huntsville (10-6, 4-0) went on an 11-0 run to take its first lead since the early stages of the first quarter. A technical foul against Pea Ridge on an inbound play proved to be big in the surge. Troy Lambert hit the two free throws on the technical, and Mason Davidson made a layup on the ensuing possession, cutting Pea Ridge’s lead to 42-38. The Eagles got another bucket from McCubbin and a 3-pointer from Kobe Ogden to take the lead at 43-42 with 5:10 left.

Over the final 4:48, it was the McCubbin show as the 6’4” post scored on a 2-1 break, hit a 3-pointer and threw down a baseline dunk to give the Eagles a 50-44 lead.

“I picked up the two early fouls because I was just playing hard,” McCubbin said. “But I didn’t get any more fouls after that the rest of the game. When I had to sit out, I was just trying to get my guys fired up. In the fourth quarter, the game was close and I just had to do what I could to help the guys out.”

Early on, Pea Ridge used a pass-and-cut attack to slice through for easy layups that enabled the Blackhawks to build the lead. Guard Bric Cates was able to penetrate the Huntsville defense en route to a team-high 17 points. Junior post Ben Wheeler also found the range from the perimeter and finished with 12.

Huntsville countered with savvy play from Davidson, who showed off a solid mid-range game in addition to making two 3-pointers. He finished with 17 points.

The Eagles are off to a 4-0 start to league play, and Gosvener, in his second season as the head coach, said the success of this year’s team can be traced back to last offseason.

“Obviously I came in late last year,” said Gosvener, who took over the team just a handful of games into the season. “We didn’t get to work a whole lot on our stuff. In the spring, these guys just bought in and put in all the work that it takes to be a great team. We don’t always play smart, we preach it, but these suckers, they play hard every single night and if you play hard, a lot of stuff takes care of itself.”

The Eagles will be on the road Tuesday at Gentry, and Pea Ridge will host Prairie Grove.

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