By Rob Patrick
BENTON — No matter what the competition, whenever teams from Bryant and Benton engage each other it’s going to be intense.
In fact, it’s easy for a team to get overly stoked. Intense turns into tense.So, more often than not, it’s the team that keeps cool and relaxed that performs best and wins.
And, on Monday, Jan. 12, that proved to be the Benton Junior Panthers despite the manic intensity and histrionics of their head coach David Torres.
The Panthers calmly put together a 17-2 run that included four 3-pointers and an old-fashioned three-point play over a five-minute span in the first quarter to take control of the game on the way to a 51-39 victory, avenging a 41-37 loss at Bryant earlier in the season.
The two teams will meet again in Bryant to wrap up the regular season on Feb. 9.[more]
Though the Hornets trimmed the lead to 10 twice in the second half, they just couldn’t get any closer. It seemed like every time they seemed to be putting a run together, Benton made a shot, hit a free throw or get the better end of an officiating decision.
The Hornets were within 7-6 with a minute left in the first quarter thanks to a layup by Jonathan Parks. But a basket inside by Nate Smith at the other end gave Benton a 3-point edge going into the second period.
That didn’t seem too much to worry about for the Hornets until Nathan Griffin opened the second with a 3 and, after Bryant missed, Griffin turned in a three-point play to extend the lead to 15-6.
The Hornets appeared to have Parks behind the defense for an answering hoop but Parks, pushed in the back by a defender, was cited for traveling and Benton got the ball back. Smith canned a 3 to make it 18-6 and the Hornets had to have a timeout.
When play resumed, Parks got free for a layup off a nice feed from point guard Brantley Cozart. But a pair of 3-pointers from Jordan Griffin pushed the lead to 24-8.
With a free throw by L.J. McLaughlin and an offensive-rebound bucket by Cozart, Bryant trimmed the margin to 24-11 at the half.
Benton led 30-16 midway through the third quarter when Tyler Nelson hit two free throws and took advantage of Panther turnover with a short jumper. The Hornets were within 30-20. And when Smith missed on a 3-point try, they had a chance to get closer.
But a turnover cost them. Jordan Griffin scored and Benton went on to hold onto a 34-22 lead going into the fourth quarter.
And when Smith hit a 3 and Tamario Beaugard scored to start the scoring in the final period, the Panthers had a 39-22 advantage, their largest of the game.
The Hornets rallied again but it took until the 1:42 mark for them to get it back to 10. Logan Trudell’s 3 made it 45-35 but a three-point play by Beaugard helped keep Benton in charge.
Jordan Griffin finished with 13 points, Nathan Griffin, Smith and Beaugard each had 12.
For Bryant, Cozart led with 9. Parks and Cody McPherson each added 8.
JUNIOR PANTHERS 51, JUNIOR HORNETS 39
Score by quarters
BRYANT 6 5 11 17 — 39
Benton 9 15 10 17 — 51
Cozart 2-5 4-4 9, Nelson 1-3 2-4 4, McPherson 2-9 3-3 8, McLaughlin 1-4 3-4 5, Parks 3-3 2-5 8, Motto 0-1 1-2 1, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Trudell 1-2 1-2 4. Totals: 10-27 16-24 39.
N.Griffin 3-6 5-7 12, J.Griffin 4-9 2-6 13, Smith 4-9 2-6 12, Harris 1-1 0-0 2, Beaugard 5-7 2-6 12, Maulden 0-0 0-0 0, Stout 0-0 0-0 0, Rutherford 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Willis 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Riley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 17-33 11-23 51.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-11 (McPherson 1-5, Cozart 1-3, Trudell 1-2, Nelson 0-1), Benton 6-14 (J.Griffin 3-5, Smith 2-6, N.Griffin 1-3). Rebounds: Bryant 20 (Parks, Motto 5), Benton 23 (Smith 8). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Benton 7. Total fouls: Bryant 17, Benton 15. Fouled out, Bryant, Nelson.