Photos by Kevin Nagle
The Benton Panthers eighth grade team had tied the game at 23 with 4:11 left in the third quarter and there was a struggle for a while as both the Panthers and the Bryant White Hornets of Bryant Middle School bid to gain the upper hand. Both teams misfired. Bryant’s Colby Washington made a steal but two more turnovers followed. Benton’s Jaden Woodbright missed a 3 but, again, the Hornets turned it over against the Panthers’ press.
Finally, with just over two minutes left in the quarter, Derrick Rose swiped the ball for Bryant White. He was fouled on the way to the basket, went to the line and converted one of his shots to snap the tie.
He followed up with another theft and this time, it led to a 12-foot jumper that extended the lead to 26-23.
Benton countered when Nic Wayson got to the line for a pair of free throws. But, moments later, the Hornets’ Daniel Washington came through with a three-point play to give his team a 29-25 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers were never able to pull even down the stretch as the Hornets converted 10 of 18 free throws in the final quarter for a 39-34 victory.
Catrell Wallace scored 9 points and hauled down 13 rebounds to lead the way. Arlon Jenkins added 8 points, Tre’Vun Herron had 7 and Daniel Washington 6. Rose, Keyshawn Scott and Colby Washington each had 3.
The Hornets were without one of their top scorers, O.J. Newburn, due to injury.
Jalen Reed led Benton with 14 points. Peyton Hudgins had 5. T-Shane Pugue scored 4 to go with 10 rebounds.
Jenkins made two free throws to start the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 6. Hudgins kept the Panthers in it with a 3-pointer and the Panthers had two chances to get closer before Wallace grabbed the carom off a Benton miss and was fouled. He converted both ends of the one-and-one.
Pigue got those back at the line with 4:01 left but the Panthers didn’t score again until the 1:23 mark. In the meantime, Colby Washington and Daniel Washington each hit free throws and Wallace converted four times as the lead grew to 38-30.
Benton whittled it to 38-34 but, in the final minute, Jenkins hit a free throw to set the final score.
Benton led just twice, at the start of the game when Reed opened the scoring with a free throw and Dewayne Jones scored off the offensive glass; then again at the very end of the first half when Reed hit an off-balance shot to make it 19-18, capping off a 9-2 run.
The Hornets overcame the early deficit with a 12-2 surge, sparked by Jenkins’ driving jumper. Herron followed up with a 3. Jenkins’ old-fashioned three-point play made it 8-3. Herron then made a steal and layup. And when Daniel Washington fed Wallace for a layup with 1:25 left in the quarter, it was 12-3.
Connor Burrow knocked down a 3 to get Benton back on track but Bryant led 14-7 going into the second quarter.
The Hornets didn’t add to their total until the 3:58 mark of the period when Rose fed Wallace to make it 16-10. That’s when Benton’s half-closing surge began.
To open the second half, however, Scott drilled a 3 to put the Hornets back on top. Daniel Washington drove for a layup to make it 23-19 but Reed and Pigue answered to get the Panthers even at 23. That set up Bryant White’s game-turning push.
Now 5-5 on the season, the Hornets are set to travel to Russellville tonight. Then they’ll be off until Thursday, Jan. 21 when they host one of the North Little Rock teams.