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story.lead_photo.caption Guy-Perkins’ Wyatt Spires (center) and Izard County’s Justus Cooper (right) battle for a rebound during the Class 1A boys championship Saturday at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs. Spires scored 16 points as Guy-Perkins won 71-66. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

HOT SPRINGS — Guy-Perkins sent John Hutchcraft out a winner.

Senior guard Carson Petruccelli finished with a game-high 24 points, including four free throws in the game’s final 1:03, as the Thunderbirds gave their veteran coach the perfect send-off and birthday present with a 71-66 victory over Izard County in the boys Class 1A state championship Saturday night at Bank of the Ozarks Arena.

Celebrating his 65th birthday, Hutchcraft captured his 11th state championship — six boys and five girls — and second in a row for the boys. He ends his 42-year coaching career with a 2,013-617 record.

“It does feel very good,” Hutchcraft said. “These boys worked hard for me. They knew it was my birthday. They knew it was the state championship. They knew it was the last game of my career. I was chanting ‘10 state runners-up, 10 state championships.’ They wanted me to go out as a winner, but if we would have lost, we played like winners.”

The Thunderbirds’ up-tempo style led to the highest scoring game of the championship weekend. The Thunderbirds (36-8) hit 25 of 58 shots, 7 of 19 three-pointers and made 14 of 20 free throws.

Senior Wyatt Spires, Hutchcraft’s grandson, scored 16 points and pulled down 21 rebounds, 9 on the offensive end as the Thunderbirds made 34 points from inside the lane.

“I’m not sure [Spires] got as many as I did but he got a bunch tonight,” laughed Hutchcraft, who is among the career rebounding leaders at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. “Not only did he get a lot tonight, there were several games in the state tournament he had 20-plus rebounds. All year I’ve been trying to tell him how important those rebounds are. He’s sees where we are tonight because of those rebounds.”

Izard County (37-4) started strong, hitting 9 of 15 field-goal attempts in the first quarter. The Cougars charged out to a 31-19 lead 65 seconds into the second quarter, but the Thunderbirds closed the half on a 17-6 run.

Izard County’s Justus Cooper scored 19 points in the first half, but the 6-5 sophomore forward was held to a lone three-pointer over the final two quarters. Freshman guard Caleb Faulkner matched Cooper’s team-high 22 points, but he, too, was limited in the second half, scoring only seven points. Cooper and Faulkner also led the Cougars in rebounding, getting 11 and 9, respectively.

Izard County was 24 of 65 shooting for the game, but only 10 of 34 in the second half. The Cougars held the lead for more than 20 minutes.

“Not only did we win a state championship, we beat a good young team that will surely be back here in the next few years,” Hutchcraft said.

“In the third quarter we started rushing some of our shots,” Izard County Coach Kyle McCandlis said. “That’s kind of how Guy plays. We had good-looking shots but they come at you and I felt they capitalized on that.”

The game featured seven ties and 11 lead changes. Tied at 59-59 with 3:40 remaining, Petruccelli, the tournament’s MVP, hit a layup to start a string of eight consecutive Guy-Perkins points. Izard County was never any closer than three points the remainder of the game.

The Cougars did have two chances to tie in the final 17.8 seconds, but Faulkner was short on three-point attempts on both occasions. Brooks Tipton (13 points, 4 rebounds) capped the Thunderbirds’ scoring with two free throws with 1.8 seconds left.


At a glance




Guy-Perkins 71, Izard County 66


Izard County 52, Mount Vernon-Enola 48 Guy-Perkins 65, Western Grove 58


Mount Vernon-Enola 81, Woodlawn 57 Izard County 49, Kirby 47 Western Grove 48, Bay 47 Guy-Perkins 62, Armorel 58


Woodlawn 85, Kingston 81 Mount Vernon-Enola 76, Acorn 59 Kirby 67, Omaha 40 Izard County 72, Nevada 62 Bay 60, County Line 55 Guy-Perkins 88, Dermott 77 Armorel 62, Deer 52


Woodlawn 60, Rector 55 Omaha 70, Maumelle Charter 47 County Line 58, Wonderview 57 Dermott 50, Scranton 46




The Guy-Perkins senior guard finished with 24 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 block. He went 9 of 21 from the floor and made two three-pointers. Petruccelli tied the game at 59-59 with 4:00 remaining with a jumper and his layup with 3:40 left gave the Thunderbirds a 61-59 lead. In the fourth quarter, Petruccelli scored eight points to help Guy-Perkins win its second consecutive Class 1A state championship.


Guy-Perkins Coach John Hutchcraft’s career ended Saturday night with his sixth boys state championship and 11th title overall. He won five girls state championships at Guy-Perkins, with his last one coming in 2005. … Senior forward Wyatt Spires, Hutch-craft’s grandson, grabbed a game-high 21 rebounds as he helped the Thunderbirds outrebound Izard County 40-37. … Guy-Perkins outscored Izard County 34-16 in the paint. … Attendance for the game was 2,371. … Izard County sophomore forward Justus Cooper scored 19 points in the first half, but was held to three points in the second half.

Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun
Guy-Perkins’ Head Coach John Hutchcraft celebrated his 65th birthday Saturday by coaching the Thunderbirds to their second consecutive state title and his 11th overall.

Print Headline: Glorious farewell for Hutchcraft

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