BENTONVILLE -- As long as Van Buren had the lead and Jamilyn Kinney handled the ball a good distance from the basket, the senior guard was determined to control the pace of Wednesday's game.
But when Bentonville High moved in front midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Tigers elected to test the Lady Pointers' patience. Bentonville melted valuable time off the clock and made it work with a 42-36 victory during 7A-West Conference action in Tiger Arena.
"I'm proud of how our girls closed out the game down the stretch," Bentonville coach Tom Halbmaier said. "Overall, I thought our team defense was good. We got some stops when we needed them, and Avery Hughes came out strong in the second half and hit some shots to get the lid off the rim.
"As long as Kinney is at the point, it doesn't matter where the game is being played -- she's going to dictate the pace. She's one of the finest point guards I've ever coached against. I'm glad she's a senior and she's graduating. She's going to be a great player at the next level."
Hughes, held scoreless through the first half, put Bentonville (17-6, 6-3) ahead to stay when she nailed a 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 40 seconds remaining, then she split two Van Buren defenders to hit a bucket and made it a 33-30 game with 3:51 remaining. Ira Sandoval's free throw at the 3:05 mark pulled the Lady Pointers (14-8, 5-4) within two, but the Lady Tigers held the ball until Maryam Dauda scored inside with 1:30 left.
Bentonville did the rest its scoring at the free-throw line to not only seal the win, but take a tiebreaker advantage. Emily Sanders hit four straight, then Hughes hit two more and Dauda hit the final one to cap the scoring with 14 seconds remaining.
"We were hitting those free throws," Halbmaier said. "Even with Maryam hitting that one, it gave us a six-point lead. It made two long possessions for them and they would have to hit two 3s to tie it. It was a great win for us."
Hughes finished with 12 to lead Bentonville, which stays in a tie with Springdale for second place in the league standings. Kinney led Van Buren with 14.
Van Buren 13 5 10 8 -- 36
Bentonville 9 6 10 17 -- 42
Van Buren (14-8, 5-4): Kinney 14, Evans 9, Sandoval 7, Frazier 3, Myers 3.
Bentonville (17-6, 6-3): Hughes 12, Dauda 9, Hawkins 7, Sanders 7, Palasak 4, Hernandez 3.
Bentonville 65, Van Buren 33
Bentonville coach Dick Rippee called Wednesday's outing "the best team game of the year."
The Tigers ran off 26 unanswered points over a 6 1/2-minute span in the first and second quarters and went to dominate Van Buren and complete a season sweep over the Pointers.
Bentonville (14-6, 6-3) closed out the first quarter with 14 straight points for a 16-4 lead, including a Tommy Deffebaugh buzzer-beater. Michael Shanks and Josh Smith then combined to hit four straight 3-pointers to start the second quarter and made it a 28-4 game with 6:36 before halftime.
"I had no idea we had that kind of run," Rippee said. "I just know we shot the ball awfully well. I was really proud of our shot selection. I thought we ran our stuff and executed well.
"It's amazing when you're making basketball how much better you defend and rebound and do all the other stuff. It was a good night for us. We played well and beat a team that has played very well in the league."
Van Buren (12-10, 3-6) ended the run with a Mekhi Burnett 3-pointer moments later, and that sparked a 17-2 Pointer run. Presley Kindrix hit a 3-pointer to pull Van Buren within 30-21, but Bentonville closed out the first half with a bucket by Asa Hutchinson and a 3-pointer by Shanks after Deffebaugh made a steal when the Pointers were holding for one shot.
The Tigers then opened the second half with 12 unanswered points and extended their lead to 47-21 after Hutchinson bucket. Bentonville eventually invoked the sportmanship rule when Brayden Freeman's buzzer-beater gave the Tigers a 59-28 cushion.
"We tried to emphasize at half that the first 3 minutes of the second half were huge," Rippee said. "They're going to be in that position where they're going to keep playing and fight, and we've been on the other side. We've had the lead but let others get back in the game, and I thought our guys had the right frame of mind. Their focus was good."
Shanks had 18 of his 20 points in the first half to lead Bentonville, followed by Hutchinson with 12. Jordan West and Burnett led Van Buren with eight apiece.
Van Buren 4 17 7 5 -- 33
Bentonville 16 19 24 6 -- 65
Van Buren (12-10, 3-6): West 8, Burnett 8, Ball 6, Stewart 5, Kindrix 3, Gilmore 3.
Bentonville (14-6, 6-3): Shanks 20, Hutchinson 12, Simmons 7, Deffebaugh 7, Baggett 6, Smith 6, Phillips 3, Chambers 2, Freeman 2.Preps Basketball on 02/08/2018
Print Headline: Basketball: Bentonville holds off Van Buren