Caden Miller proved Friday what coaches have stressed all along.
Defense wins games.
Miller turned in some defensive gems down the stretch to enable Bentonville to hold off Springdale 69-62 in a 6A-West Conference game. Miller also contributed 10 points for the Tigers, who'll carry some momentum into tonight's showdown with league-leading Bentonville West.
For his effort, Miller is the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette boys player of the Week. Clare Barger of Harrison is the NWADG girls Player of the Week.
Springdale pulled to within four points with under four minutes to play after trailing by as much as 17 in the game. Miller stopped the Bulldogs in their tracks with back-to-back blocks. The 6-foot-9 junior also grabbed an offensive rebound and threw down a dunk that turned the momentum back to Bentonville (18-4, 6-2 6A-West), which is within a game of Bentonville West in the conference standings.
"I thought he was really, really good," Bentonville coach Dick Rippee said of Miller's performance against Springdale, which fell two games behind Bentonville West. "I thought he was very, very aggressive and did the things we really needed him to do. I thought he was fantastic and made some plays down the stretch."
Harrison has long counted on Barger, a standout athlete who plays multiple sports for the Lady Goblins. Barger scored 17 points last week to reach 1,000 points for her career during a 70-49 victory over Alma in 5A-West Conference play.
Barger, who signed to play basketball and long jump in track and field for John Brown University, had the added bonus of serving as Harrison's Colors Day queen in the win over Alma at Goblin Arena. She then went out and scored nine points in the first quarter to help stake the Lady Goblins (8-12, 2-5) to a 24-10 lead over Alma.
"Clare is an amazing athlete, a great student, and a wonderful person.," Harrison coach Stacie Klott said of Barger, who started as a sophomore on Harrison's state championship team in 2021. "She has been a large part of our success. She is athletic and able to score in all phases of the game. She has always been a hard worker and spends a lot of extra time in the gym."
Team Conference Overall
Bentonville West 9-1 20-2
Bentonville 8-2 18-4
Springdale Har-Ber 8-2 16-5
Springdale 7-3 18-6
Fort Smith Northside 5-5 15-8
Fayetteville 4-5 14-9
Fort Smith Southside 1-8 5-16
Rogers 1-9 6-15
Rogers Heritage 1-9 5-18
Fort Smith Northside 9-1 18-3
Bentonville 18-2 19-5
Springdale Har-Ber 8-2 14-7
Rogers Heritage 6-4 17-6
Fayetteville 4-5 11-11
Rogers 4-6 9-14
Springdale 3-7 12-11
Fort Smith Southside 1-9 6-17
Bentonville West 1-9 8-15
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Springdale at Fort Smith Southside
Fort Smith Northside at Springdale Har-Ber
Rogers at Fayetteville
Bentonville at Bentonville West
Fort Smith Northside at Fort Smith Southside
Rogers at Bentonville West
Bentonville at Rogers Heritage
Fayetteville at Springdale Har-Ber
Bentonville West at Springdale
Springdale Har-Ber at Bentonville
Fort Smith Southside at Rogers Heritage
Fayetteville at Fort Smith Northside
* Some games may be rescheduled because of inclement weather