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PREP BASKETBALL: Golden Hurricane top Wampus Cats

by Erick Taylor | January 25, 2023 at 3:06 a.m.
3d rendering of an orange rubber surface of a basketball ball shown on a black background. Basketball league. Team play. One ball in court. basketball tile / Getty Images


CONWAY -- Jonesboro braced for one test from Central Arkansas by acing another Tuesday night.

Deion Buford-Wesson, Phillip Tillman and Isaac Harrell combined for 51 points as the Golden Hurricane walked out of Buzz Bolding Arena with an impressive 62-45 victory over Conway.

Buford-Wesson led the way with a team-high 25 points for No. 4 Jonesboro (19-3, 4-1 6A-Central), which tuned up for Friday's showdown at No. 1 Little Rock Central with a thorough showing.

"He was fantastic," Jonesboro Coach Wes Swift said of his senior guard. "He kind of carried us. When he's shooting the ball well, he's such a tough guard. He hasn't been attacking the rim much, he shoots floaters and threes.

"[Tuesday], he got all the way to the rack several times, and boy, that's going to put pressure on some defenses as we move forward."

Buford-Wesson's running mates Harrell and Tillman aided in keeping the Wampus Cats on their heels. Harrell finished with 16 points, and Tillman had 10 points as the Jonesboro shot an efficient 20 of 38 (52.6%) while committing just eight turnovers.

The Golden Hurricane also put the clamps on its opponents defensively after halftime. After shooting 12 of 25 (48%) in the first half, Conway (13-8, 2-3) made just 5 of 23 (21.7%) field goals over the final 16 minutes, including 2 of 11 (18.1%) in a third quarter that saw the Wampus Cats outscored 16-5.

Colen Thompson had 21 points for Conway, which was 17-of-48 (35.4%) shooting.

Jonesboro trailed 5-4 early, but a three-pointer from Tillman started a 10-0 run that gave the Hurricane a nine-point advantage with just over two minutes left in the opening quarter, but Conway had an answer.

Trayveon Safford's putback started a string of six consecutive points that enabled the Wampus Cats to pull within 14-11 by the end of the period. Conway then scored 10 of the first 16 points of the second quarter and grabbed a 21-20 advantage after a leaner from Matthew Grimes with 3:40 remaining in the half.

That'd be the last time Jonesboro would trail.

Buford-Wesson scored five consecutive points during a 7-2 run and came up with a pair of steals later that led to buckets, helping the Golden Hurricane hold a 32-29 lead at the half.

Jonesboro would take over completely in the third quarter. After a runner from Kaleb Moody cut the Wampus Cats' deficit to 36-31, a turnaround 8-footer by Harrell began an 11-0 surge. Conway missed six shots in a row during that run and was never able to fully recover.

"Us attacking the paint opened things up for Isaac," Swift explained. "When we move it on the perimeter, he doesn't get any space. But when the ball hits the paint, teams collapse, and then he gets some space.

"Our whole mentality is attack the paint, attack the paint, attack the paint, and we did a good job of that in this one."

Devarious Montgomery also had 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals for the Golden Hurricane, who will now turn their attention to the top-ranked Tigers. Central (20-3, 5-0) whipped Little Rock Southwest 71-39 on Tuesday.

"Central kind of keeps the pressure on you the whole time," Swift said. "They're not overly worried about getting into a high-scoring game with you because they feel they can outscore you. I don't think they've been guarded the way we'll guard them, but at the same time, I don't think we've been pressured the way they're going to pressure us and just keep the gas on the pedal by attacking, attacking, attacking.

"We will have to be in attack mode, and not let them come at us all night long."


Print Headline: Golden Hurricane top Wampus Cats

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