HOT SPRINGS – After starting out in an 11-0 hole to begin the game, the Benton Lady Panthers fought back, but fell 49-47 to the Hot Springs Lady Trojans on Monday night in Hot Springs.
Tied at 47-47, Lady Trojan Berniezha Tidwell hit a 7-foot runner with four seconds remaining. After a timeout, the Lady Panthers set up a play, but couldn’t get a shot off to fall to 6-3 on the season.
“We weren’t ready to start the game,” Benton Coach Jerry Chumley said. “In fact, we got the tip and went the wrong way. We were just mentally not ready to play and they scored off that. We just didn’t really guard well in the first few minutes. We were mentally out of it. It took us a little bit to recover.”
But recover the Lady Panthers did as they went on a 16-5 run after the 11-0 hole and tied it at 16-16 going into the second quarter.
“We regrouped and started getting out in the passing lanes like we want,” Chumley said. “Got into a half-court trap and got some steals that way. Just started playing. We didn’t do anything special, just finally started getting after them and got our hands on the ball.”
Benton made 6 of 9 free throws to help get back in the game in the first quarter, but the Lady Panthers missed five free throws in the second quarter. Benton was outscored 12-6 in the second to go into the half trailing 28-22.
“We didn’t do anything good in the second quarter,” Chumley said.
After getting down 35-27 in the third quarter, the Lady Panthers fought back once again to get within 36-33 going into the fourth quarter. But the energy put in to get out of the early holes hurt Benton in the end.
“We had to dig ourselves out of a couple holes and we did that, but that’s ultimately what did us in,” Benton Coach Jerry Chumley said. “We spent so much energy getting out of the two holes and poor free-throw shooting.”
Senior Korie Parker had 13 points to lead the Lady Panthers, followed by 12 points off the bench from sophomore Braylee Landreth. Senior Madi Brooks had nine points and sophomore Braxton Chumley had eight. Benton made just 9 of 18 free throws, which ended up biting them in the end.
“We only made half our free throws,” Chumley said. “With a two-point loss, that’s big. On the road, tough environment, good team, you have to be better than that at the free-throw line.”
“I thought our kids played real hard after that initial bad start. We couldn’t put a run together to take the lead. We could put a run together to catch back up, but [Hot Springs] would always hit a big shot. I’m really proud of the girls for staying in it. We never quit, but once we got it tied, we couldn’t muster anymore.”
Despite the close loss, Chumley did take some good out of it.
“It was a good road atmosphere for our kids for when we go to conference,” he said. “In conference, all seven road games are hard. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
The Lady Panthers play next on Friday when they host the Jonesboro Hurricane.