With two of his best scorers on the bench for much of the second half with foul trouble, Van Buren coach Randy Loyd had to lean heavily on role players and reserves to keep Russellville at bay.
Those Pointers succeeded.
With Jason Harms scoring a game-high 26 points, Van Buren held off the Cyclones 69-53 on Tuesday.
Now, the Pointers (10-1) can prepare for its 7A-West home opener Friday against Bentonville.
"When (Mitchell Smith and Ryan Pearson) are on the bench with four fouls early in the third quarter, you hope you bench can keep you in the game," Loyd said. "The reserves were superb tonight. Not only that, (starting forward) Brad Eversole had his best game of the season, as did (starting guard) Quashaun Kursh had his best game as well."
Reserves guards Brandon Chambers and Zed Steinmetz, along with reserve forward Andrew Martin, were given praise by Loyd as well for their play.
"This was the first time all season that the bench had to come in and play quality minutes for us," Loyd said. "We do not win the game tonight without those guys."
Smith and Pearson, two of the team’s top scorers along with Harms, were saddled with foul trouble in the first half, but it became critical when both got their fourth fouls 90 seconds into the third quarter with the Pointers clinging to a 41-28 lead.
The Cyclones used a 10-0 run to get within three at 43-40 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
Harms, though, drained a 3-pointer to stop the Russellville momentum and Kursh got a pair of free throws in the waning seconds as the Pointers led 54-47 going into the final quarter. Harms then started opening the final quarter with five consecutive points that put Van Buren back ahead by double digits, 59-47, with 6:30 left.
Russellville again got to within seven at 60-53 with three minutes left, but did not get any closer. The Cyclones were just 1-of-18 from the 3-point arc.
The teams combined for 51 fouls and 50 free throws in the game.
Besides Harms, Pearson finished with 14 points for the Pointers while Kursh added 13.
Andy Campbell paced Russellville with 19 points while Marquis Rhode added 10.
Russellville 38, Van Buren 33 (Women’s)
The Lady Pointers (5-6) did not score in the final 6:54 of the game and the Lady Cyclones took advantage.
Russellville scored the final 11 points of the game, taking the lead for good at 34-33 on a Addyson Hipps jumper with 2:54 remaining.
Van Buren had taken a 33-27 lead with 6:54 left after consecutive 3-pointers by Lani Snowden, who paced Van Buren with 13 points.
Shameka Ealy scored 17 to lead Russellville while Alyssa Owens added 10.