4A STATE BASKETBALL: Magnolia starts fast then holds on to defeat Joe T. Robinson

FARMINGTON -- Magnolia held on after a fast start Wednesday night.

Magnolia built a 12-point lead in the first quarter then needed key free throws late to secure a 57-52 victory over Joe T. Robinson in the Class 4A state tournament at Cardinal Arena. Junior Williams scored 18 for points for Magnolia (25-2), which will play host Farmington at 8:30 p.m. tonight.

Magnolia had to fight to the end after jumping to leads of 11-0 and 13-1 in the first quarter. Joe T. Robinson rallied to take a brief 34-31 lead on a steal and a layup by Dalton Palmer late in the third quarter. Magnolia eased back ahead in the fourth quarter then held on after Rodreous Young and Ahmad Davis made two free throws apiece in the final seconds. Davis added 13 points and Young 12 for the Panthers, who led 35-34 to begin the fourth quarter.

"You always want to jump out to a lead if you can, but once you get in that position you feel like you're playing not to lose," Magnolia Coach Ben Lindsey said. "By then, it's like an NCAA Tournament game, a 16 [seed] versus a 1, and the whole place it seems starts cheering against you and you tighten up. But we were able to take a deep breath and settled down a bit."

Robinson was already behind 13-1 when Micah Moore connected on a 12-foot jumper with 1:02 left in the first quarter. That basket seemed to spark the Senators (15-18), who got going offensively and kept the game close the last three quarters.

Cairon Allen scored 15 points and Palmer 13 to lead Joe T. Robinson.

"We have a bad habit of starting slow, and you definitely don't want to start slow in a state tournament against really good teams," Joe T. Robinson Coach Anwar Hardin said. "Unfortunately, we started that way again. But I was really proud the fight the guys showed."

Williams, a 6-foot-5 junior center for Magnolia, made key plays around the basket for Magnolia. He had a rebound basket to give the Panthers a 35-34 lead, and Davis opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to increase the lead to 38-34.

"The scouting report had Number 34 [Williams] all over it and, unfortunately, we didn't put a body on him enough," Hardin said. "He's a big body who's tough to handle and that really hurt us on the offensive boards."

Magnolia has a quick turnaround for its game with Farmington tonight.

"They've been one of the two teams out front in our classification all year," Lindsey said. "[Farmington guard] Layne Taylor, I've never seen anybody maximize their ability as much as that kid has. I'm a fan, but I won't be a fan [tonight]. It's going to be a great game. We're going to try and slow him down as much as we can."


Tyler Parham scored 18 points to lead Brookland past Morrilton.

Parham had eight points in the third quarter when Morrilton got within 28-23 following a three-pointer by Isaiah Templeton. Briar Allred countered with a three-pointer before Parham ended the third quarter with two more threes to give Brookland a 39-23 lead.

Cole Kirby added 12 points and Allred 10 for Brookland (27-5), while Templeton finished with 13 points to lead the Devil Dogs (27-7).

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