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OZARK -- A strong second half and an even stronger final quarter allowed Arkansas Baptist to pull away Friday in the opening round of the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament at Ozark Arena.

Junior guard Chad McGonigal scored a team-high 24 points and 7-2 freshman center Conner Vanover added 20 to lead the way in a 57-41 victory against Dumas.

"Dumas is a tough team that is well-coached," Arkansas Baptist Coach Brain Ross said. "I'm proud of our guys, because we fought through a little bit of cold shooting and nerves early. But we got more aggressive and shots started to fall."

Dumas trailed just 23-22 heading into the second half, but Arkansas Baptist turned up its defensive effort and pulled away thanks to some high-percentage shots.

Arkansas Baptist (26-6) outscored Dumas 13-7 in the third quarter to take a 36-29 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Dumas (14-12) cut the lead to 39-35 early in the fourth quarter with early baskets, but Arkansas Baptist forced turnovers and McGonigal's helped it put away the game.

The Eagles used a 13-0 run to extend the lead out to 52-35, with McGonigal scoring 11 of those points during a stretch late in the fourth quarter.

"It was the turnovers," Dumas Coach Larry Harris said. "When you turn the ball over, you are not going to win many games. There is no play I can call to not turn the ball over.

"We haven't been to state since 2011. The stage might've been too big for us."

Dumas had only six turnovers in the first half but finished with 12 in the second half, and Arkansas Baptist had plenty of good looks as it shot 56 percent in the second half after shooting 30 percent in the opening half.

"We try to hang our hat on our defense," Ross said. "We did a good job stopping their drives at the end. We forced a few more turnovers. What I love about our kids is everyone wants to play great defense."

Dumas cut the lead to 52-41 late in the fourth quarter but couldn't get any closer.

Senior forward James Spinks led Dumas with a team-high 24 points, including 14 in the first half that helped the Bobcats stay close.

Dumas jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the first quarter with early scoring from Spinks, who finished with a team-high six points in the quarter.

Arkansas Baptist used a 7-4 run to close the first quarter, then had a 11-2 run in the second quarter that pushed the lead out to 21-12. Dumas scored the opening basket of the second quarter but didn't score again until 3:51 was left in the first half.

Junior forward Brandon Vanover finished with seven points for Arkansas Baptist, and senior center Brian Chaffin also had seven points for Dumas.

Sports on 03/07/2015

Print Headline: Eagles' defense goes into denial

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