BENTONVILLE — The second time around against Van Buren proved to be an easier effort for Bentonville’s boys basketball team.
The Tigers played one of their more balanced games of the season Friday night and opened the second half of 7A/6A-West Conference play with a 56-43 victory over the Pointers in 7A/6A-West Conference play in Tiger Arena. In the first meeting, Bentonville had to hang on for a 51-46 win at Van Buren.
"We were so disciplined, especially defensively," Bentonville coach Jason McMahan said. "That created problems. They couldn’t get the ball to their spots, and it created the whole tempo of the game.
"Offensively, that was our best ball movement and getting to the rim. I don’t feel like we shot that well, but we played so good. Our execution level was really high."
Bentonville (14-3, 8-0) never trailed after Malik Monk’s 3-pointer put the Tigers ahead 5-3 with 5 minutes, 47 seconds seconds left in the first quarter. The game, however, remained close for most of the first half, with Van Buren (15-4, 5-3) pulling as close as 22-20 on Mitchell Smith’s free throws with 3:45 remaining before halftime.
Jake Caudle, then hit a pair of buckets to park a 9-1 spurt to close out the first half and give Bentonville a 31-21 halftime lead. Monk closed it out on the high note, driving to the bucket and rolling the ball in with just 5 seconds left.
"The thing for us was we got points everywhere," McMahan said. "The kids stepped up to make their shots, but Malik and Tyrik Dixon were really involving the other guys. They didn’t take bad shots, and they got those other guys going.
"That’s a credit to what kind of guards they can be. Not just scorers, but guards."
The Pointers never made a serious threat in the second half. Jason Harms hit back-to-back buckets and pulled Van Buren within 42-34 to start the fourth quarter, but Bentonville responded with eight of the next nine points — including a pair of buckets by Daniel Head — and extended its lead to 50-35 with 4:41 remaining.
"It was one of those deals offensively when we couldn’t get it done," Van Buren coach Randy Loyd said. "When you come into a place on the road, you have to compete and we competed for the most part.
"We were just out of sync. It was a matter of coming up here and them following us around screens and pushing us out and not getting our offense in the right position. We’re having to start our offense 30 feet out instead of 20 feet out, and we can’t do that."
Monk finished with 19 and Dixon added 11 for Bentonville, while Harms was the only Van Buren player in double figures with 16 before he fouled out in the fourth quarter.
Bentonville 57, Van Buren 36 (Women’s)
Tom Halbmaier knew something different had to be done after just three minutes of action Friday night.
The first thing Bentonville’s girls basketball coach did was call timeout, then he elected to put Lauren Hargus into the game.
Both moves suited their purpose well. Hargus, a freshman guard, scored a season-high 18 points, and the Lady Tigers ended a four-game losing skid with a 57-36 victory over Van Buren during 7A/6A-West Conference action in Tiger Arena.
"It was a nice win for us," Halbmaier said. "We had a four-game funk, and now we have to move on and move forward. It’s not how you start, but how you finish."
"That was as flat as we started out all year. We had kids in there that weren’t ready to play, and I’m disappointed in that effort."
It was anything but nice for Bentonville (13-7, 4-4) in the early going as Van Buren jumped out to a 10-0 lead before the timeout. Hargus then scored the next three points as the Lady Tigers pulled back within 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Hargus then sparked a 14-0 Bentonville run when she hit a running layup to start the second quarter, then capped it when her 3-pointer gave Bentonville a 23-12 lead with 4 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first half.
"My hat is off to Lauren Hargus and those who were ready to play," Halbmaier said. "She came off the bench and was one of the huge reasons we won.
"I felt like she was the best player on the floor, as a freshman. She looked like it, and she played like it. That lady did a great job coming in here and creating shots, not only for herself but for her teammates. She did a fantastic job, and I wasn’t pulling her out. I think I might have found my catalyst for the next six games."
Van Buren (5-15, 0-9) closed the gap to 26-18 at halftime and opened the second half with a free throw by Maria Santillana, but that was the closest the Lady Pointers could get. Bentonville countered by scoring 18 of the next 20 points — nine of them by Jordan Martin — and extended its lead to 44-21 on Peyton Taylor’s back-to-back baskets to start the fourth quarter.
Martin was the only other Bentonville player in double figures with 15 points, while Hargus also had five assists and six rebounds. Santillana scored Van Buren’s last 15 points and finished with 18.