Van Buren wins fifth straight at Fayetteville. Lady Pointers look forward to a night off. Alma heads to Russellville.
The Van Buren Pointers will take the longest active winning streak in the 7A-West into the open date.
“We’re real thankful to get off to the start we did and see the improvements,” Van Buren head coach Austin Trembley said. “It’s been good. Now, we’ll recharge our batteries and keep trying to get better.”
Van Buren won its fifth straight conference game on Friday night and sit at 5-2, a game back of Har-Ber and Bentonville.
Friday, the Pointers won at Fayetteville, 60-46.
“To close it out on the road, I thought it was take out best effort to go beat them,” Trembley said. “I was pleased with the way the kids played.”
The Pointers led 36-35 after three quarters and then put the game away with 24 points in the final quarter.
“It was a close game all the way through,” Trembley said. “We were fortunate to pull away in the fourth quarter. The last three games, even me as a coach, we’re trying to figure out how to score with the basketball and just finding out who we are and our identity. The kids have executed very well.”
Presley Kindrix scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Pointers on Friday. He scored 15 points in the final quarter, hitting all six free-throw attempts, drilling a 3-pointer along with three other baskets.
“Presley is the kid you want on your team, nobody can question his competitiveness and desire to win,” Trembley said. “He loves the game. He kind of gives you confidence before the game. He gets you bumped up. He’s ready to compete. He’s been real coachable.”
Friday, Van Buren was 19-of-21 from the charity stripe altogether.
Van Buren opened conference play with losses on consecutive trips to Benton County, first to Bentonville West and then to Bentonville before reeling off five straight wins.
“We hope that keeps continuing, every day in practice and every game to just grow,” Trembley said. “We want to build on the things that we did well and fix the things we need to work on. You hear coaches talk about the process, and that’s what we talking about.”
Before Friday, the Pointers were just 4-15 at Fayetteville since being elevated into the state’s largest classification and into the current 7A-West for the 1991-92 season. They won in 2014, 2004, 2000, and 1999.
“It’s a great atmosphere and they have great support,” Trembley said. “Every team is better on its home court. They’ve been playing really well coming into the game.
Tuesday is the conference’s designated make-up date so all teams are open, and that break couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Pointers.
“I was talking to my dad after the game, and he lives in Kansas and listens to the games on the radio,” Trembley said. “We were talking and that’s what he said, too, that we just hate to see the momentum killed. We’ll be just fine. We did have a little rhythm going and we need to keep it going.”
Van Buren opens up the second half of conference play on Friday at home against Bentonville West.
The Lady Pointers didn’t fare was as well on their trek to Fayetteville in the battle for first place.
Fayetteville jumped to a 17-9 lead after a quarter and 41-22 at the half.
“They’re very good, offensively, and in that setting it’s going to take a special night by a very good team to get them,” Van Buren head coach Chris Bryant said.
Van Buren ended the first half with two extremely physical games against the two most physical teams in the conference, winning at home against Springdale Har-Ber before the loss at Fayetteville on Friday. Fayetteville has been the hardest place for the Lady Pointers to win at since joining the conference in the 1991-92 season, managing just two wins in 19 games.
Van Buren will be off on Tuesday due to the conference’s designated make-up date. It’s a welcome relief.
“Absolutely,” Bryant said. “After seven games through a competitive conference, you love a few extra days to get re-charged and get ready for the next round.”
The Lady Pointers finished the first half with six wins in seven conference games and will get ready to host Bentonville West on Friday.
“We’ll do everything possible to make sure we’re recuperated and healthy as we can be,” Bryant said. “We’ll do some live action on Tuesday, and once we get to Wednesday it will be a normal game week.”
ALMA AT RUSSELLVILLE
Alma head coach Codey Mann spent a long time in Russellville before moving back to Crawford County last year to coach the Airedalettes.
“It’s exciting to go back and see some close friends,” said Mann, a Van Buren native. “I was there 16 years and developed a lot of relationships. I’ll see a lot of the former players that will come to the game.”
Tuesday’s games will mark the second in six days against Russellville, which played at Alma last Thursday in make-up game.
“I’m pretty sure they’re going to want to beat us,” Mann said. “We shot pretty well and got to the free-throw line.”
Alma trailed 11-2 early and then rallied to a 50-40 win, holding the Lady Cyclones to just two points in the fourth quarter.
Friday, the Airedalettes lost to Greenwood, 57-38. Alma managed just three offensive rebounds in the game and the first one was with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
“They held us to one shot and played defense,” Mann said. “They’re tall. They’re definitely a size disadvantage for us.”
The Airedales lost to Russellville, 53-46, last Thursday but answered with a 62-56 win at Greenwood to sweep the season series.
Alma did commit 12 turnovers in the second half against Greenwood on Friday, but was playing it’s third game of the week.
“We played three games in a week and they were tension filled,” Alma head coach Stan Flenor said. “We just need to be in that position more often where we can respond to that.”
Alma led Russellville, 25-24, at the half last week but was outscored in each of the last two quarters so Tuesday’s game will serve as redemption for the Airedales.
“We didn’t play very well, and we’d like to redeem ourselves,” Flenor said. “We’re glad of that. That’s the great thing about basketball is you get to turn around and play again.”