5A STATE BASKETBALL: Alma sets tone, takes down White Hall

Alma forward Israel Towns-Robinson (11) shoots a driving layup contested by Van Buren forwards Jaxon Cazzell (1) and Glavine McDonald (13), Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, during the second quarter of the Airedales’ 60-58 win over the Pointers at Charles B. Dyer Arena in Alma. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today’s photo gallery..(River Valley Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Alma forward Israel Towns-Robinson (11) shoots a driving layup contested by Van Buren forwards Jaxon Cazzell (1) and Glavine McDonald (13), Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, during the second quarter of the Airedales’ 60-58 win over the Pointers at Charles B. Dyer Arena in Alma. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today’s photo gallery..(River Valley Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)


SEARCY -- Setting the tone is at the top of Alma Coach Dominic Lincoln's list of objectives for his squad.

Whether that's the first quarter or the third, he said he wants the Airedales to walk out of the locker room and make their mark right away.

With both opportunities, Alma did that Tuesday night to defeat White Hall 60-51 in the first round of the Class 5A boys state tournament.

The Airedales (21-9) hit five of their first six shots to build a 13-4 lead. White Hall (15-16) closed the first quarter with a run of its own, but Alma had enough of a lead to end the quarter up 30-17.

Much of Alma's offense in the first half was via three-pointers. The Airedales hit four in the first quarter and three in the second.

"We had the problem figured out in the scouting report," White Hall Coach Josh Hayes said. "When guys go out there and don't carry out the scouting report, it makes me look like I don't know what I'm doing.

"So that was really frustrating because that was our game plan, to not let them have any open looks, and we got guys right there with their hands down."

On the other end, Jai'Chaunn Hayes was leading White Hall with a flurry of contested jump shots for 13 in the first half.

While both attacks changed in the second half, the lead remained the same.

Alma went inside as junior forward Israel Towns-Robinson had 17 points to go with 14 rebounds.

"He's been our guy all year," Lincoln said. "We want to get the ball to him, we want to establish him early, and it helps everybody else. So that's no surprise."

For White Hall, Hayes was held to two points as Alma brought a second man in to defend on nearly every play after halftime.

Junior Jacoby Edwards scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, but he was the lone Bulldog with more than six after halftime.

Benton 60, Mountain Home 38

It took Benton a full half to find its groove on offense, but the Panthers cruised to a win over Mountain Home thanks to a third-quarter outburst from Terrion Burgess.

The sophomore wing had 14 of his 18 points in the third quarter as the Panthers (27-4) outscored the Bombers 20-11 in the period. Junior Caleb Knight added six of his 10 points in the third.

Benton continued that shooting in the fourth quarter to outscore Mountain Home (20-11) 22-12 in the period. Javarious Russell scored nine of his 13 points in the final quarter.

Braiden Dewey and Rhett Gilbert led Mountain Home with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Jacksonville 55, Nettleton 46

Tied 46-46 with 2:15 remaining, Jacksonville closed the game on a 9-0 run to upset the 5A-East's No. 1 seed and advance to the second round.

Jacksonville (19-11) trailed for nearly all of the first three quarters as it worked to make up ground after a 15-7 first-quarter deficit.

Junior Jayce Tillman led Jacksonville with 19 points. Senior Bryson Hammond added 16.

Senior Taylor Smith led Nettleton with 23, but he scored just one point in the fourth quarter. Junior Jakobe Jamison added 10 points.


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