CENTERTON -- Van Buren boys basketball coach Austin Trembley said his team learned a difficult lesson when it opened 7A-West Conference play by losing to Bentonville West on its home court.
The Pointers became the teachers Friday night as they overcame an early 19-6 deficit and opened the second half of league plays with a 62-52 victory in Wolverine Arena.
Van Buren 10 15 22 15 -- 62
West 19 7 14 12 -- 52
Van Buren (12-9, 3-5): West 19, Kindrix 17, Burnett 7, Stewart 7, Ball 6, Gilmore 3, King 3.
West (14-7, 4-4): Hornsby 19, Collier Blackburn 11, Larsen 9, Barron 8, Swoboda 4, Collin Blackburn 1.
"Bentonville West showed us what conference basketball was about in the first game," Trembley said. "Going through conference games, we lost one in overtime, lost one in double overtime and lost one by one point where we had the lead.
"We didn't understand how to win, and we had to be tough. We took a big step here to get the win."
It didn't appear that way early as Gabe Hornsby and Collier Blackburn combined for five 3-pointers over the first 4 minutes, 40 seconds and gave West (14-7, 4-4) a 19-6 lead. The Wolverines, however, hit only one more from outside the arc, and they went scoreless for more than 9 minutes.
That dry spell gave Van Buren (12-9, 3-5) what it needed to get back in the game. The Pointers ran off 14 unanswered points and took a 20-19 lead on a Mehki Burnett bucket before Ben Larsen's free throw broke West's dry spell with 2:05 before halftime.
"I'll be honest -- and I love this -- we went back to the basics and did seventh-grade shell drills on defense," Trembley said. "We can score with the basketball. It's just getting in your head: don't forget the fundamentals.When we would get tired, we got out of our stances. We were missing some big boxouts in these close games.
"Gabe hits three of those threes. You're saying Gabe can shoot it, but he can really drive it. Collin pops in two more, and I couldn't be any more prouder of my guys for hanging in there after that. It was impressive what they did early, but I'm proud we kept together after that."
The two teams jockeyed back and forth until Jordan West, who hit 10 of 10 free throws and finished with a team-high 19 points, hit six free throws in a 30-second span -- four after the Wolverines were hit with back-to-back technical fouls. That gave Van Buren a 39-34 lead with 3:12 left in the third quarter, and the Pointers never trailed again.
Presley Kindrix was the only other Van Buren player in double figures with 17 points. Hornsby had 19 to lead West, which suffered its third straight loss, while Blackburn added 11.
Girls: Van Buren 42, Bentonville West 25
Van Buren rolled to its second big win over West by holding the Lady Wolverines scoreless for more than 9 minutes in the first half and again for more than 8 minutes in the second half.
Van Buren 9 12 10 11 -- 42
West 4 6 3 12 -- 25
Van Buren (14-7, 5-3): Kinney 13, Myers 11, Sandoval 7, Evans 6, Porter 3, Frazier 2.
West (8-12, 1-7): Wilson 10, Henry 5, Kash 5, Clifton 4, Mahone 1.
"You look up at halftime and they have 10, then at the end of the third quarter they had 13," Van Buren coach Chris Bryant said. "I was really pleased with the attention to detail and the fight our kids displayed defensively."
Ashaundi Henry's bucket with 4:05 left in the first quarter forced a 4-4 tie, but West (8-12, 1-7) didn't score again until Shania Wilson connected with 3:04 before halftime. By that time, Van Buren (14-7, 5-3) had run off 14 unanswered points and had an 18-4 cushion after Jamilyn Kinney's second 3-pointer.
Wilson's bucket early in the second half pulled the Lady Wolverines with 21-13, but West didn't score again until Anna Kash's 3-pointer with 6:34 remaining. That allowed Van Buren to run off 16 unanswered points and extend its lead to a 37-13 margin.
Kinney had 10 of her 13 points in the first half to lead Van Buren, followed by Jentry Myers with 11. Shania Wilson had 10 for West.
Preps Basketball on 02/03/2018
Print Headline: Pointers bounce back, hand Wolverines third straight loss