Defense does it again for Benton
BENTON – After winning their first two 7A/6A South Conference games by an average of 44.5 points, thanks to a 74-9 rout of Fair on Tuesday, the Benton Lady Panthers didn’t let up on Friday night in another rout, this one a 51-23 victory over the Sheridan Lady Jackets at Benton Arena.
“I thought defensively it was one of our better games of the year so far,” Benton Coach Jerry Chumley said. “The girls took to the scouting report about as good as they ever have. I thought Braxton [Chumley] did an excellent job on [Kadesha] Cooper, their best player. Any time [Cooper] got free, the help was there.”
The Lady Panthers (11-2, 3-0 South) held Cooper to just eight points for the game on 3 of 9 shooting from the field as Benton’s defense did the job again. Benton has outscored its past three opponents 62.3-23.3.
“The kids are just buying in,” Coach Chumley said of their defensive play. “I think they like stopping people. Earlier in the year we were trying to find our rhythm offensively so much that defense became kind of second fiddle, but here lately, they’ve bought back in that defense is going to win the conference. In the first three games, we’re not allowing any easy shots. We’re back to doing what I like doing, and that’s just holding people down.”
It started off slow for the Lady Panthers early as Sheridan’s Lauren Mitchell nailed a three to start the scoring, but it didn’t take long for Benton to regroup. Junior Braxton Chumley got a steal and a layup, and junior forward Braylee Landreth put in a layup to make it a 4-3 Benton lead. The Lady Jackets would hit two free throws to tie it at 5-5, but Chumley’s layup gave Benton a 7-5 lead after one quarter and began an 18-2 run for the Lady Panthers to put the game out of reach early.
“Skyler [Davis] did a great job on Mitchell,” Coach Chumley said. “Ashlie [Dintleman] and Braylee sealed off the middle all night. I don’t really remember Sheridan getting many offensive rebounds all night. We did a great job defensively.”
Benton, which forced 20 turnovers for the game, would lead 28-10 at the half and push its lead to 36-12 after Chumley hit 1 of 2 free throws with 3:45 left in the third. Leading 38-17 after three quarters, the Lady Panthers would score the first six points of the fourth, leading 44-17 after senior Jayelynn Martin found Landreth for a 5-foot jumper.
Landreth had 20 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field and 8 of 13 from the free-throw line, and added eight rebounds to go along with two assists.
“Braylee probably had her best all-around game of the year, maybe her career,” Coach Chumley said. “She was strong offensively and defensively, she played with poise and didn’t try to do too much. She let the game come to her, which is what we’ve been wanting. She put up the numbers. “She’s one of the better players around, anywhere, because she works so hard. She always gives 100 percent. She never takes a play off. She doesn’t always do things correctly, but she does everything hard all the time.”
Chumley added 10 points and two steals, Dintleman had six points and six rebounds, and sophomore Tia Brazell had six points. Senior Allison Reynolds had just four points, but had four rebounds, four steals and two assists in the win.
Next up for the Lady Panthers will be the Lady Razorbacks in Texarkana on Tuesday.
“They’re playing everybody tough,” Chumley said of Texarkana. “They haven’t won a conference game, but they’re right there. They have some athletic kids and it’s a difficult place to play.”