DONALDSON – After winning the Bill Gibbs Memorial Tournament at their home court earlier in the season, the Benton Harmony Grove Cardinals decided they wanted to win a tournament on the road. The Cardinals had little trouble in shutting the Fordyce Redbugs down with a 46-24 win in the Herb Russell Invitational championship game at Ouachita High School for their second consecutive tourney win.
“We won a championship in every tournament we’ve played in so that’s always good,” Cardinals Coach Dexter Hendrix said.
It wasn’t pretty to start as the Cardinals (11-2) held an 18-13 lead at halftime.
“It was a slow-paced and ugly game in the first half,” Hendrix said. “We just had trouble scoring the ball. We had a lot of good looks, we just had trouble finishing. Only hit one three in the first half and didn’t shoot the ball well at all.”
But, Harmony Grove would almost match its halftime point total in the third quarter. Up 20-16 with with 6:30 left in the third, the Cardinals would go on a 14-0 run, outscoring the Redbugs 16-3 in the quarter to lead 34-16 going into the fourth.
“We went on a big run there and Drake Wilks took over and really got us going, got to the foul line a lot, attacked the basket, got in transition well,” Hendrix said. “Chris Hawkins came off the bench and gave us a big spark defensively. We turned them over and got some easy points in transition. That really separated ourselves in the third quarter.”
Sophomore Jake Scoggins led the team with 18 points and Wilks followed with 16.
“I’m real proud of the boys,” Hendrix said. “Their effort was great. Fordyce is a very talented and athletic team so we feel very fortunate to win another championship. I think we got better this tournament, but I know we have a lot to do with a tough conference season coming up.”
The Cardinals will travel to Fountain Lake on next Tuesday to take on the Cobras in 5-3A conference play.
“They’ve been playing really well, really well-coached,” Hendrix said of Fountain Lake. “They play hard and physical. They always play really good at home.”