By LEE HILLER, Journal Sports
Benton High School’s girls basketball team had been living the good life the last three years in the playoffs, having been to the state finals each year.
But issues with Covid hit the Lady Tigers for their first round Class 5A game Thursday with West Ouachita and the visiting Lady Chiefs hit a game-winning 3 at the buzzer to eliminate the Tigers 62-59.
The Lady Tigers saw a halftime lead vanish in the third quarter and trailed 59-55 with a little over a minute left in the game when Jada Stewart put back a missed shot to close the gap to 59-57.
The Tigers came up with the defensive stop and Ella Kate Malley drove to tie the game at 59. Off the inbounds pass, Benton’s backcourt pressure forced a turnover on the baseline with 22 seconds left but the Tigers turned the ball over themselves in the waning seconds. The Lady Chiefs hustled upcourt, and in transition hit an off-balance game-winning shot that bounced above the rim and dropped as time expired.
Stewart led Benton with 20 points, Marissa Schoth scored 13 and Malley and Chloe Bailey both had 8.
The Lady Tigers’ bitter ending left them with a 20-12 record after finishing as a Class 4A runner-up, Class 5A state champion and last year’s runner-up finish in 5A.
AIRLINE 86, H,L. BOURGEOIS 59: At Airline, the Lady Vikes (23-12) rolled past the Lady Braves as Kayla Hampton 33 poured in a game-high 33 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dealt out 8 steals, Kori Rice added 18 points and 13 rebounds and Endia Pradier 16 points. Airline will travel to No. 1 Walker for the second round.
CAPTAIN SHREVE 65, BARBE 63: The No. 26 seed Lady Gators used a second-half rally on the road to upset the No. 7 Bucs. Shreve trailed 35-26 at the half but reduced the deficit to 51-46 entering the final quarter. For the Gators (14-16), Kyra Stokes led four in double digits with 16 points, Desiree Hudson poured in 15 and Carley Hamilton and Zoe Manning both scored 14. Barbe (21-7) had four in double figures as well, led by Aveil Williams’ 21 points. The Gators will host No. 10 Northshore in the second round.
SOUTHWOOD 62, MANDEVILLE 32: At Southwood (23-10), Jermesha Frierson led the Lady Cowboys with 22 points, Ma’Shaylen Pratt scored 14 and collected 10 rebounds, and Minnie Williams added 13 points.
WEST JEFFERSON 51, HAUGHTON 39: The Lady Bucs, who finished their turnaround season at 17-12, were led by freshman Dakota Howard’s 24 points on the road.
HUNTINGTON 76, SOUTH TERREBONNE 15: The host Lady Raiders (18-6) got a game-high 18 points from Zanyah Lefear,while Joycelyn Bell scored 14, Kalea Dean had 11 points, 12 rebounds and Asia Jones Reed added 10 points and 9 rebounds. The No. 5 Lady Raiders will host 12th seeded North Vermilion in the second round.
PLAIN DEALING 47, HAYNESVILLE 36: The Lady Lions (11-17) got 23 points from Za’Kiyah Williams to down the Tornado in a Class 1A first-round game at Plain Dealing. They will next be on the road to No. 1 Northwood-Lena, who had a first-round bye.
BYRD 7, ST. MARY’S 2: The host Yellow Jackets were paced by Kate Shaw, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a triple. Morgan Cantrell was 2-for-4, with a double and an RBI. Jenna Smith got the win, striking out 11 in a complete game while St. Mary’s posted 9 hits.
BENTON 15, NORTH WEBSTER 4: At Benton, the Lady Tigers’ Olivia Burns turned in a 2-for-4 performance with 4 RBIs, while Christina Gegg had two hits, 2 RBIs and scored three times from her leadoff position. Megan Risher had a triple in two at bats.