Huntsville's big shots cost Bobcats

Friday, January 4, 2019

By Scott Loftis

The Berryville Bobcats seemed to have things under control for most of the first three quarters in Saturday’s game against Huntsville.

But the Eagles got hot from three-point range in the fourth quarter and then held off a late rally to beat Berryville 53-49 in the third-place game of the Holiday Hoops Tournament at Bobcat Arena.

“We’re still just searching for some continuity,” said Berryville coach Brent Compton, whose team lost its final two games in the tournament after a four-game winning streak. “One game we’ll play well on defense and struggle on offense, and the next game we’ll do pretty well on offense but struggle on defense.”

Berryville (7-9) led 32-27 after senior guard Zakk Webb made two free throws with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter. But Huntsville senior Beau Whelchel scored the final six points of the quarter, the last two coming on a pair of free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining to give Huntsville a 33-32 lead.

The Eagles’ first 12 points of the fourth quarter came on three-point shots. Senior Clint Eaton had the last two, capping the run with a shot from the left baseline that pushed Huntsville’s lead to 45-40.

“They made some big shots, at inopportune times for us,” Compton said.

Berryville fought back with four free throws from Webb and a short jumper from sophomore J.D. Smith that tied the score at 46-46 with 1:14 remaining. But Whelchel scored inside despite being fouled and added the free throw to put Huntsville up 49-46 at the one-minute mark.

Berryville missed a three-pointer on its next possession, then another shot was off the mark on the Bobcats’ next possession.

With the Bobcats forced to foul, Huntsville’s Sean McCone made two free throws with 12.3 seconds left.

Berryville junior Trenton Hutchinson dropped in a three-pointer from the right baseline with six seconds remaining to pull the Bobcats within 51-49, but Whelchel made a pair of free throws with five seconds left to seal the victory for Huntsville (11-5).

Webb scored 15 points and senior guard Rayden Peden added 12 for Berryville. Whelchel had 22 for Huntsville.

White County Central beat Bergman in the boys championship game later on Saturday.

Compton said the Bobcats are improving, despite losing two games in the tournament.

“I’ve learned a lot about our team,” he said. “I saw some improvements. I’ve been seeing that the last couple of weeks. I think we got better during the tournament. I’m still optimistic that we are going to play well and steal some games the rest of the way.”

Berryville will host Green Forest on Friday.

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