This is the Russellville Cyclones basketball team head coach Codey Mann expected in the preseason — and what a perfect time for it to come together.
RHS defeated the Van Buren Pointers 55-36 to celebrate Colors Day on Friday night. Morever, the Pointers came into Cyclone Gym riding a nine-game win streak was undefeated in the 7A/6A-Central Conference.
"At the start of the year, I looked at this as potentially playing for the conference championship," Mann said. "But things didn’t play out like I expected."
For starters, a key player in Russellville’s offense, Andy Campbell, missed several games with injury. When he returned, the Cyclones struggled to gel.
"These guys never laid down," Mann said. "They never quit coming to practice, and they continued to play hard."
Russellville (8-11, 3-4 7A/6A-Central Conference) survived a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter by Van Buren (15-6, 6-1) after Campbell’s layup with just over five minutes left in the game kick-started the Cyclones offense and put them up 41-34.
Russellville used a series of quick plays with speedy assists to put the Pointers away as time expired. Campbell hit a pair of layups, one fed by K.J. Patrick and another by Jacob Boles. Co-Chese Temple-Laws and Campbell each scored again before time expired to put the game away.
The Cyclones didn’t hit a field goal that wasn’t behind the 3-point line in the first half.
The Cyclones scored three 3-pointers in the first quarter to leap ahead 19-5. Andy Campbell and Jacob Boles opened the scoring to put Russellville up 6-0, before Van Buren’s Dylan Kinney answered with a trey of his own. Tony Jones drained three consecutive 3-pointers and K.J. Patrick hit one from the free-throw line to make the score 16-3. The Pointers hit one from the free-throw line, before Campbell closed the quarter with another 3-pointer.
Van Buren pulled within nine points in the second quarter as the Cyclones offense cooled off. Patrick scored three points on two trips to the free-throw line, while the Pointers took a few successful trips of their own.
Russellville’s Zach Carter drained two 3-pointers off the bench and Boles took a point from the charity stripe to put the Cyclones ahead 29-19 at halftime.
Boles hit his second 3-pointer of the night to kick off the second half. Tony Jones scored the first field goal inside the paint with 4:20 left in the third quarter. Van Buren sank two buckets to make it 34-25.
Campbell was shoved to the ground by Mitchell Smith on a 3-point try and hit all three baskets from the foul-line to put the Cyclones up 39-27 going into the fourth.
Russellville was led in scoring by Campbell with 17, Jones with 13 and Boles with nine points scored.
Russellville 44, Van Buren 42 (Women’s)
The Russellville Lady Cyclones held on for the win over the Lady Pointers during Friday’s Colors Day game inside Cyclones Gym.
Van Buren’s Haley Jenner tied the game at 42 with less than a minute left, but Alyssa Owens answered with a layup to put Russellville back on top.
From there, the Lady Pointers (11-7, 4-3 7A/6A-Central Conference) vied for court position. Van Buren threw the ball past midcourt, then called another time out to draw up another play. The Lady Pointers threw the ball to the paint, but Bailey Wilbers got the interception to run out the clock.
Shameka Ealy drew first blood to give Russellville (9-11, 5-2) the first lead of the game, but Van Buren went on a 4-0 run to jump ahead. Owens tied the game with a 3-pointer, before Jocelyn Brown and Addy Hipps combined to give Russellville a 10-9 lead going into the second.
Owens scored two three pointers and two jumpers to put the Lady Cyclones ahead 24-20 at halftime. Ealy pitched in another three and Abbie Looper scored a pair of buckets to contribute to the Russellville advantage.
Owens finished the first half with almost half the Lady Cyclones points to herself at 10.
Hipps opened the third quarter with a layup and Ealy scored five unanswered points — a jumper and a 3-pointer — to put Russellville up 31-23. Van Buren took a successful trip to the charity stripe and pitched in a 3-pointer on the buzzer to make the score 31-28.
The Lady Cyclones were led in scoring by Owens with 16, Ealy with 14 and Hipps with eight points.