Bobcats going to state! Take No. 4 Subiaco to the limit
Coach Tracy Jones and the Berryville Bobcat basketball team had a number of goals when the season started, including winning the 1AAA District conference and tournament race, playing in the regional tournament, making it to the Class AAA State Tournament, and being ranked state-wide.
Bingo. All goals are go, so far.
The Bobcats assured themselves of a berth in the Class AAA State at Prescott this week with an exciting 54-52 win over the West Fork Tigers last Friday night at the Class AAA Region 1 tournament in Ozark.
Berryville, 23-6 and ranked No. 8 statewide in Class AAA, moved on to the second round and faced Subiaco, 24-6 and ranked No. 4 in AAA, and took the Trojans to the limit before falling 69-59 to free throws at the end.
That put the Bobcats in the third/fourth place game on Monday against Gentry, played for seeding purposes at the state tournament. Ozark (No. 6 in state in AAA) played Subiaco in the championship game later that evening.
CLASS AAA STATE
Depending on the outcome of Monday's game with Gentry, Berryville will either play Wednesday at 2:30 if they are the No. 4 seed, or Friday at 5:30 if they are the No. 3 seed from the regional tournament.
Games will be played at Prescott, near Hope in southern Arkansas. Bobcat fans said it had been close to 25 years since the Bobcat boys had been to state, and that was back in a time when there were no regional tournaments. The top two teams from district went.
CLASS AAA REGIONAL
Berryville vs. West Fork
Friday, Feb. 28
22-16, 34-29, 43-41, 54-52
Senior Dustin Jackson went wild the first quarter against the Tigers, scoring 14 points from all over the floor, including a dunk on a lob pass at 2:04 of the first quarter that put Berryville up 19-11.
But West Fork's junk defense, a triangle-and-two that smothered high-scoring Bobcat Grant Myrick all night, got the Bobcat team in foul trouble, and the Tigers crept back into the game.
"We just kept running our man offense," Coach Jones said. "Dustin played well. He was really fired up before the game. He knew what was on the line. He kept his composure and stepped up."
Steady play in the second half from inside man Cory Smith against West Fork's 6-6 Shawn Weaver, took up any scoring slack, with Smith pouring in 21 points right over the taller Weaver during crunch time.
The Tigers tied the game at 45-all with 5:45 to play, then took their first lead of the night just a minute later. Myrick hit a free throw for a 50-49 lead, then Smith got loose on a fast break and squeezed a layup in for a 52-49 edge with just 0.57 to play.
West Fork's Steven Sprick drained a three to tie the game with just 46 ticks on the clock, then the Tigers made a strategic mistake and left Myrick open for one of a rare few times all night.
Myrick took a pass at the top of the key and drove to the basket for a lunging layup with just 18 seconds left, which turned out to be the winning shot in the 54-52 win.
Scoring- BV- Smith- 21; D. Jackson- 14; Myrick- 10; Josh Jackson- 5; 2's- Heath Neal, Drew Ray. WF- Sprick- 17; Weaver- 11; Yates- 9.
Saturday, March 1
6-11, 15-29, 31-50, 59-69
The Trojans are tall, physical, and talented, deserving of their No. 4 ranking state-wide. Their quickness bothered Berryville in the first half, but the Bobcats began to get physical themselves and adapted to the fast pace of play.
Drew Ray hit a three with 4:20 to play until halftime to make it 21-11 Subiaco, but the Bobcats were getting just one shot and the Trojans were rebounding and running their fast break well.
The Trojans hit two threes to start the second half and went up 37-15, then led 48-26 after a LaMarcus Irvin breakaway dunk with 1:03 to play in the third quarter.
The Bobcats just fought harder, with Myrick hitting a three with 2:41 to play to make it 55-43. Ray came back in and made two free throws, then got a steal for a layup with 1:55 left in the game to make it 56-51.
Ray drove for another layup the next trip down the floor, scored and was fouled, and suddenly it was a four-point game, 58-54. Irvin hit a free throw for Subiaco, but Myrick got loose and drove for two to cut the Trojans lead to 59-56 with just 52 seconds to go, and a big Berryville group of fans were going wild.
But 10 free throws in a row by Subiaco in those last minutes, 22 of 33 on the night, ended Berryville's comeback try. Berryville made 17 of 25 free throws.
Scoring- BV- Myrick- 23, 17 2nd 1/2; Ray- 16, 14 2nd 1/2; Cory Smith- 9; Heath Neal- 6; Andy Kriesel- 5. SB- Elliott Taliaferro- 19; Ralph Duda- 15, 7/8 Fts; Irvin- 12.