BENTON -- Sophomore standout Terrion Burgess usually gets the bulk of the notoriety for Benton's boys, but it was his supporting cast that moved to the forefront Friday night.
Tyre Jemerson scored 19 points as the Panthers turned back charge after charge from White Hall to pull out a 71-66 victory at Benton Arena.
Fifteen of Jemerson's points came after halftime for the Panthers, who may be picking up steam at just the right time.
Benton (13-10, 4-6 5A-South) has won consecutive conference games for the first time since winning its first two league outings back in December. The win also keeps the Panthers in the hunt for a playoff spot in a crowded 5A-South, where at least four teams are all within a game of each other for the fourth and final postseason berth with three weeks to go in the regular season.
That, in turn, means there's very little margin for error for anyone, particularly Benton. But in their first home game since Jan. 10, the Panthers showed plenty of flex against a team it had lost to previously.
"It was a total team win," Benton Coach Dexter Hendrix said. "I told the guys at halftime that [White Hall] was going to keep shooting it, keep coming at us. But we made just enough plays to hold on."
Burgess did finish with a team-high 23 points and 10 rebounds for Benton, which dropped a 64-57 decision to the Bulldogs on Jan. 3 in the first meeting. But the 6-9 forward, who holds scholarship offers from a number of NCAA Power 5 programs, was far from a one-man show.
Outside of Jemerson's stellar play, Jonathan Bell had 11 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals while Kjuantai Hampton ended with 9 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals for the Panthers. Kyle Payne also came off the bench to score seven points.
Jai'Chaunn Hayes, another one of the state's top sophomores, finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals for White Hall (15-9, 6-5), which was down 32-27 at halftime and 62-46 with less than five minutes to go in the game before roaring back. Keaton Stone added 21 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, and Randy Emerson chipped in with nine points.
Both teams started out quickly and went 7 of 12 (58.3%) from the floor in the first quarter, with Burgess scoring eight points and Hayes rattling off seven. But it was a three-pointer from Emerson early in the second quarter that gave White Hall a 22-18 lead and seemingly put it in control, particularly after forcing turnovers on consecutive possessions.
Yet, Payne responded to Emerson's long jumper by hitting back-to-back three-pointers less than a minute apart to get the Panthers going.
"We got contributions from a lot of different people," Hendrix said. "Terrion, of course, gets so much attention that we kind of have to have other guys step up and finish plays for us. We got that at crucial times in this one."
Payne's second three-pointer -- a 22-footer from the right wing -- started a quarter-closing 11-5 blitz that helped give Benton its five-point cushion at halftime
The Panthers continued its streak in the second half and built a 47-37 lead following a putback from Bell with 2:32 left in the third quarter. But the Bulldogs employed a full-court trap that enabled them to stomp back.
White Hall scored seven of the last nine points of the period to pull within 49-44, only to see Benton adjust and rip off on a 13-2 run to start the fourth quarter. The Panthers eventually held their 16-point advantage until Emerson's third three-pointer with 4:30 remaining ignited an 18-6 run that inched the Bulldogs closer.
Two free throws by Stone later cut Benton's lead to 68-64 with 59.1 ticks left. The senior then helped force a turnover on the Panthers' next possession, but White Hall returned the favor by throwing the ball away soon after. The Bulldogs would turn it over again on its next possession, which all but sealed their loss.
"We've struggled taking care of the ball," Hendrix said. "Now [Friday], we did a much better job of it, except when they made their run there in the third. But when we're taking care of it, I really like our chances.
"In the month of February, all these games are big. We're just like everybody else in our conference, trying to fight for a playoff spot. Hopefully, we can keep this up."
BENTON 66, WHITE HALL 27
Madison McIntire had 18 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals to push Benton (17-3, 10-0 5A-South) to a rout.
Presley Chism also scored 18 points for the Lady Panthers, who scored 21 of the game's first 23 points, to build an insurmountable lead. Zayyah Bufford had 10 points, 7 assists and 6 steals, while Alyssa Houston added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Panthers.
Kynnedi Barnett had six points for White Hall (8-13, 3-8), which started four freshmen. The Lady Bulldogs trailed 39-18 at halftime and were outscored 22-2 in the third quarter.
Benton shot 24 of 53 (45.2%) for the game and doubled up White Hall 32-16 on the boards. The Lady Bulldogs were 9-of-30 shooting (30%) and turned the ball over 24 times compared to 13 for the Lady Panthers.
Gallery: Benton vs White Hall Basketball