6A STATE BASKETBALL: Defending champs overcome slump to beat Bentonville

Jonesboro guard Carlos Larry, Jr. (right) dribbles the ball in front of Bentonville forward Ma’aiki Dauda (left) during the class 6a state tournament Tuesday February 27, 2024, at North Little Rock Arena in North Little Rock. More photos at arkansasonline.com/228class6aboysbskt. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Justin Cunningham)
Jonesboro guard Carlos Larry, Jr. (right) dribbles the ball in front of Bentonville forward Ma’aiki Dauda (left) during the class 6a state tournament Tuesday February 27, 2024, at North Little Rock Arena in North Little Rock. More photos at arkansasonline.com/228class6aboysbskt. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Justin Cunningham)


Jonesboro started its favorite time of the year in fitting fashion Tuesday.

Chris Stacy had 23 points as the Golden Hurricane won their 12th consecutive postseason game by beating Bentonville 50-44 during the opening round of the Class 6A boys state tournament at Charging Wildcat Arena in North Little Rock.

CJ Larry added 14 points and came up with a pair of pivotal plays late for the Jonesboro (16-13), which has experienced its share of highs and lows throughout the season. But like they've done so many times in the past, the defending state champions found a way to handle business down the stretch in a tight game.

"Our guys played really hard," said Jonesboro Coach Wes Swift, whose team won two straight Class 5A championships prior to winning Class 6A last year in their classification debut. "You know, when you get a lead in the fourth quarter, it's real easy to play timid. I thought we played timid offensively at that point and time.

"After about the four-minute mark, I was trying to run some shot clock, get it down to about 15 before we started. We just didn't do a very good job of that."

Jonesboro, the No. 4 seed from the 6A-Central, didn't make it easy on itself at all in the fourth quarter. The Golden Hurricane scored the final 10 points of the third and took a 45-36 cushion into the final period, but they missed their first eight shots.

 

During that stretch, Bentonville (16-15) was able to chip away and got as close as 45-44 after Javyn Williams hit a pair of free throws with 59 seconds to go in the game. Larry, though, came up with Jonesboro's biggest sequence of the night when he scored on a driving layup with 29.9 seconds remaining. That basket was the team's first points of the quarter.

On the Tigers' ensuing possession, the junior came up with a steal near the top of the key and fed Stacy, who was subsequently fouled on a drive.

"We got that strip because the guy on the ball did his job," Swift explained. "He didn't allow [ballhandler] to get by him, and the gap defender came and got that steal."

Stacy hit one of two free throws but also got another steal and conversion moments later to seal it for Jonesboro.

Elijah Wilhelm had 14 points and nine rebounds for Bentonville. Owen Dehrmann followed with 10 points, and Williams ended with eight points.

Neither Jonesboro nor Bentonville gave up much in the first half. The lead changed hands 13 times, and the teams went into halftime tied at 24-24.

The Golden Hurricane managed to open a 33-28 margin in the third quarter, but an 8-2 run by the Tigers, capped by a short jumper from Ma'aiki Dauda, put them ahead.

Kelen Smith, though, started Jonesboro's 10-point spurt that gave it a lead it was able to hold on to.

SPRINGDALE 61, LITTLE ROCK SOUTHWEST 57

Brylan Sims and Isaiah Sealy scored 16 points each as Springdale (19-11) escaped an upset bid.

Jarvis Palmer also had 12 points for the Bulldogs, who snapped an 12-12 tie by scoring the last nine points of the first quarter. Springdale led by as many as 27-14 in the second quarter, but Southwest (7-18) scored 11 of the last 13 points to trim its deficit to three at halftime.

The Gryphons got close several times in the second half and later tied it at 55-55 on a floater from Johnathan Hudson with 1:31 left in the game. Sealy would give the Bulldogs the lead back on a putback, then came up with steal and basket on the next series to extend their lead.

Southwest later got it to 59-57 on a layup from James DeLoach and had a chance to take the lead with less than 10 seconds remaining but misfired on a three-pointer from the corner.

Holden Plant added 10 points for Springdale. DeLoach scored 23 points, Montrell Martin had 17 points and Hudson contributed 14 points for the Gryphons.


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