VIDEO: Basketball: Bentonville holds off Rogers Heritage

Lady Tigers secure first-round bye in state tournament

Posted: February 21, 2018 at 5 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF @NWABENGOFF Bentonville High's Asa Hutchinson (top) makes a shot over Rogers Heritage's Dawson Peek (22) on Tuesday at War Eagle Arena in Rogers.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF @NWABENGOFF Bentonville High's Asa Hutchinson (top) makes a shot over Rogers Heritage's Dawson Peek (22) on Tuesday at War Eagle Arena in Rogers.

ROGERS -- Bentonville struggled from the free-throw line Tuesday night in War Eagle Arena.

Bentonville 50, Rogers Heritage 43

Bentonville 19 4 12 15 -- 50

Heritage 10 9 13 11 -- 43

Bentonville (16-8, 8-5): Hutchinson 23, Shanks 10, Deffebaugh 9, Simmons 2, Freeman 2.

Rogers Heritage (17-9, 6-7): Stanley 22, Breedlove 10, Peek 8, Olsen 3.

But it didn't keep the Tigers from pulling away late from Rogers Heritage for a key 50-43 7A-West road win.

Bentonville (16-8, 8-5) endured a one-of-six stretch from the foul line in the fourth quarter, but finished strong as three different Tigers combined to hit six-of-eight to put the game away.

Asa Hutchinson poured in a game-high 23 points on eight-of-11 shooting and the 6-foot-7 senior made big shots each time Heritage (17-9, 6-7 7A-West rallied.

The Tigers, who lost to Heritage 50-36 a month ago at home, shot a sizzling 61 percent from the floor and never trailed this time. Bentonville coach Dick Rippee said his team's shot selection was better Tuesday. They made eight of their first 10 shots to start the game, then made their first four of the second half.

"I think we prepared them better for their zone, got guys in the right spots and shooting the right shots," Rippee said. "Really proud of the effort they put into the game plan. They executed it real well. It would have been a lot easier if we'd hit a free throw or two down the stretch.

"We still got enough stops to get a win against a very good team. I think Asa's really improved inside and guys did a good job finding him. We had a couple other guys get loose inside, made some nice passes. But the big thing is they're looking in the right spots."

Bentonville finished just 13 of 23 (57 percent) from the free-throw line for the game, compared to 17 of 28 from the floor.

Hutchinson, who also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, opened the fourth quarter with a three-point play to give Bentonville a 38-32 lead. Heritage got no closer than 41-38 on Seth Stanley's 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left.

Michael Shanks added 10 points to go with a game-high eight assists, while Connor Deffebaugh added nine for the Tigers, who finish the regular season against rival Bentonville West on Friday.

Stanley led Heritage with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Bryce Breedlove added 10 points.

Heritage coach Tom Olsen credited the Tigers, who finished making 17 of 28 shots from the floor in the game.

"Credit their game plan, they got the ball in the right places," Olsen said. "They had some comfortable looks and they made them. Then they got some shots around the basket they didn't get the first time we played them."

The War Eagles secured a state tournament berth, despite the loss when Springdale Har-Ber defeated Van Buren.

Heritage travels to Har-Ber for its regular season finale on Friday. Bentonville took another big step in securing the No. 3 seed from the 7A-West for next week's state tournament, but still has work left to do against crosstown rival Bentonville West on Friday.

Bentonville 60, Rogers Heritage 28

The Lady Tigers broke away with a 15-1 second-quarter run to claim the No. 2 seed out of the 7A-West Conference for next week's Class 7A state tournament.

Bentonville 14 20 16 10 -- 60

Rogers Heritage 7 11 2 8 -- 28

Bentonville (21-5, 10-3): Sanders 15, Palasak 12, Hughes 11, Hawkins 7, Dauda 6, Wagner 6, Hernandez 2, Johnston 1.

Rogers Heritage (8-17, 1-12): Seiler 6, Richardson 6, Kinnamon 5, Menke 5, Rohrbough 2, Combs 2, Dickerson 1, Cook 1.

Sophomore Emily Sanders led a balanced attack for Bentonville (21-5, 10-3 7A-West) with a game-high 15 points. Senior Emma Palasak added 12 points off the bench and Avery Hughes chipped in 11 for the Lady Tigers, who led 34-18 at halftime.

Bentonville also secured a first-round bye in next week's state tournament with the win. The Lady Tigers pulled away with a 15-1 run engineered mainly by Sanders and Hughes for a 32-14 advantage with less than a minute left in the first half. They also outscored the Lady War Eagles 16-2 in the third quarter to invoke the running clock in the fourth quarter.

Bentonville coach Tom Halbmaier said his team has put in the work to secure that bye in the state tournament.

"This group of young ladies has done a great job preparing themselves for each game," Halbmaier said. "They're very unselfish. They don't care who scores. They don't care who gets the glory. They just want to win.

"I think they've really grown a lot in terms of how to compete day in and day out and the mental toughness of the game. They don't get caught up in stats . They just try to get better. What do I need to do to make this team better?"

Pam Seiler and Kayla Richardson led Heritage (8-17, 1-12) with six points each.

Preps Basketball on 02/21/2018