Benton clinches state bid with blowout

Benton’s Caitlin Ginther goes up for a shot Tuesday against Texarkana at Benton Arena. The Lady Panthers won 67-45 to advance in the 6A West Conference Tournament. GREG DAVIS/Special to The Saline Courier
Tony Lenahan
Sports Editor

Facing a lose and not make the 6A State Tournament, the Benton Lady Panthers had a huge second-half run to come away with a 67-45 victory over the Texarkana Lady Backs Tuesday in the 6A West Tournament loser’s bracket game at Benton Arena.
The No. 4 seed Lady Panthers (14-13) advance to face the West No. 7 seed Siloam Springs Lady Panthers, which edged El Dorado 46-45 Tuesday to stay alive.
On Tuesday, Benton jumped on the Lady Backs midway through the first quarter. Down 5-3, the Lady Panthers would get a bucket and three from senior Italei Gray, and junior Caitlin Ginther had an offensive rebound and put back to cap a 7-0 run to give Benton a 10-5 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter Benton led 15-7.
Junior Kennedy Stringfellow started another 7-0 run with a 3-pointer, Ginther had another offensive rebound and put back and Gray hit two free throws to cap it to put Benton up 27-14, but Texarkana wouldn’t go away as the Lady Backs ended the half on a 9-2 run and 29-23 Benton lead.
“I was really happy with our scoring in the first half,” Benton Coach Jerry Chumley said. “We scored 29 points in the first half and that’s pretty high for us, but we gave up 23. Texarkana came out and was real energetic and playing hard like they had a lot to play for. We kind of had to buckle down defensively. They would get some offensive rebounds, and really just outworking us.”
Ginther played an excellent first half for the Lady Panthers as she finished with four points and six rebounds, outworking some Lady Backs on the boards to help keep Benton in the lead.
“Caitlin does everything well, she just doesn’t have that scorer’s mentality,” Chumley said. “She doesn’t look to score as often as she should. She did last night. She got some offensive rebounds and stuck them back up and in. She’s capable of doing that. We’ve been telling her that the last couple of years. She just has to develop that mentality, but she does everything well – defense, execution – Caitlin is a very smart, intelligent basketball player, she just doesn’t have the scorer’s mentality.”
Benton will take on Siloam Springs for the 6A State Tournament No. 5 seed Saturday at 3 p.m. at Benton Arena.