For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
BENTON — In a game in which neither team could manage much of a lead, the Benton Lady Panthers eighth grade team scored the last 5 points in the final 1:50 to escape with a 34-26 win over the Bryant Blue Lady Hornets of Bethel Middle School Monday night at Panther Arena.
The largest lead for either team before the fourth quarter had been 4 points. Bethel’s Addison Funk hit a 3 to open that final period and the Lady Hornets trailed just 23-22. In response, Benton connected on a pair of free throws on two trips to the line then scored off a turnover to make it a 5-point game.
After a scramble in which both teams struggled to capitalize, another couple of trips to the line increased the margin to 29-22 with 3:20 left to play.
The Lady Hornets snapped a 2:30 cold spell when Meagan Brown converted a free throw and Funk followed up with a steal that led to Kattrina Johnson’s basket off an offensive rebound.
Bethel coach Derek McGrew took a quick timeout with 2:57 left and, when play resumed, the Lady Hornets nearly forced a five-second call as Benton struggled to get the ball inbounded. The Lady Panthers got a timeout at the last moment to avoid the turnover.
Benton missed twice at the other end of the floor but the Lady Hornets weren’t able to take advantage initially, missing a jumper. But their defense gave them another chance as, this time, the Lady Panthers couldn’t get the ball in and couldn’t save the situation with a timeout. The Lady Hornets were awarded the ball but an illegal screen cost them.
With 2:33 left, Benton got to the line for a one-and-one but came up empty. Ashton Inman controlled the rebound and, with 2:17 to go, Funk was fouled going to the basket. She converted once to trim the margin to 29-26 but that turned out to be the last of the Lady Hornets’ scoring despite the fact that they forced a couple of quick turnovers.
Funk led Bryant Blue with 13 points. Ashton Inman had 6 and Brown 3. Baylee Hutchinson and Johnson scored 2 each.
The Lady Hornets were 6 of 13 from the free-throw line in the game while the Lady Panthers went 14 of 27.
To start the game, Benton grabbed a 4-0 lead. But Ashton Inman hit a 3. A pair of free throws for Benton were countered by the first of Funk’s three triples in the game, tying the game 6-6.
Benton managed an 8-7 edge going into the second quarter. But Brown scored inside to give the Lady Hornets their first lead.
The game was tied at 9, 11 and 14 before Ashton Inman hit a free throw with :05.2 left in the half to give her team a 15-14 edge.
Hutchison was fouled after grabbing the carom off a miss by Funk early in the second half. Her free throws extended the Bethel lead to 17-14.
Benton, however, scored the next 7 points to push out to a 21-17 advantage. With :24 left in the third quarter, Funk hit a running jumper to trim the lead to 2. She and Abbey Inman combined on a steal but a turnover foiled their hopes of tying it back up.
Benton scored with :04 showing on the clock to make it 23-19 going into the final period.
The Lady Hornets return to action on Thursday against Cabot North at the Bryant Middle School gym.