VAN BUREN -- Senior guard Jamilyn Kinney scored five first-half points but quickly picked up the pace for Van Buren when it needed it the most Tuesday night at Clair Bates Arena.
Kinney scored all of Van Buren's 19 second-half points to help hold off Bentonville High down the stretch in a 37-34 victory in a 7A-West conference matchup.
"I don't appreciate her enough," Van Buren girls basketball coach Chris Bryant said of Kinney. "That's hard to say. She made some big shots. She is just a competitor. That has inspired her teammates. We competed as a team tonight."
Kinney gave Van Buren (11-4, 2-0) a 35-34 lead with a pair of free-throw attempts with 52 seconds left in the game. Bentonville (12-3, 0-2) turned the ball over on its next possession.
Kinney missed the front end of a one-and-one to keep the game alive with 23 seconds left. But Bentonville turned the ball over again after that.
"It came down to one team making one more mistake than the other," Bentonville coach Tom Halbmaier said. "We kind of expected that coming down here. Our kids played hard. We just came up a basket short."
Kinney added to the Lady Pointer lead with a pair of free throws with just a second left to close out the game.
Van Buren, which is replacing four starters from last year's team that made it to the semifinals, leaned on Kinney in the second half. Kinney had five three-point baskets while making four of five attempts from the line after the break.
"We never know going into the game who will have a big game," Bryant said. "It all depends on how other teams guard us. But if you don't take the ball out of her hands, you can see her make plays for us."
Kinney finished with a game-high 24 points for Van Buren. Bentonville was led by freshman Maryam Dauda's team-high 15 points. Fess Hawkins added 11 for the Lady Tigers.
Van Buren was able to build a 27-20 lead with Kinney making three 3-point baskets to open the third quarter. Bentonville then used a 12-3 run after that to take a 32-30 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Pointers were able to close out the game after that with the Lady Tigers finishing the game with back-to-back turnovers.
"We found a way to win," Bryant said. "I'm sitting here wondering how we won the game. The only thing I can come up with is we weren't going to quit playing until they told us to leave the floor. Fortunately, we had the lead when the clock went off."
Van Buren improves to 2-0 in league play with two consecutive home victories, while Bentonville dropped its second consecutive conference game.
"When the opportunity presents itself, you got to take advantage of it with home games," Bryant said. "This is a going to be a fun conference run if you are a basketball fan. We are going to have a lot of battles."
Van Buren 37, Bentonville 34
Bentonville 10 6 10 8 -- 34
Van Buren 9 9 9 10 -- 37
Bentonville (12-3, 0-2) Dauda 15, Hawkins 11, Sanders 6, Hernandez 2.
Van Buren (11-4, 2-0): Kinney 24, Schnakenberg 6, Sandoval 3, Ryan 3, Evans 2.
Bentonville High 56, Van Buren 52 (OT)
Bentonville High was able to move to 2-0 in 7A-West Conference play, but Van Buren didn't make it easy.
The Tigers opened overtime with a 3-point basket from senior Asa Hutchinson IV, and didn't look back after that outscoring the Pointers 7-3 in the extra time.
"This is my second game in the conference," Bentonville coach Dick Rippee said. "Both have been overtime. I asked the guys if it would be like this every night. I might not make it through the year."
Bentonville battled back after being down 35-27 at the break. Hutchinson hit back-to-back 3-point baskets in the third quarter to tie the game at 38-38.
"You could tell Van Buren didn't want to go 0-2 and fought a little harder than our guys did early," Rippee said. "But in the second half, our guys matched their intensity."
Hutchison finished with a team-high 20 points for Bentonville (10-3, 2-0). Cadarius Baggett also added 12 for the Tigers.
Van Buren (9-7, 0-2) was led by Presley Kindrix's game-high 27 points, while Jordan West had 15 for the Pointers.
Kindrix tied the game at 49-49 with a basket that sent the game into overtime after Bentonville failed to score on the final possession of the fourth quarter.
Bentonville High 56, Van Buren 52
Bentonville 13 14 15 7 7 -- 56
Van Buren 17 18 3 11 3 -- 52
Bentonville (10-3, 2-0): Hutchison 20, Bagett 12, Simmons 7, Shanks 7, Chambers 5, Freeman 5.
Van Buren (9-7, 0-2): Kindrix 27, West 15, Stewart 8, Gilmore 2.Preps Basketball on 01/10/2018
Print Headline: Basketball: Kinney helps Van Buren hold off Bentonville