Lady Panthers' streak ends at 15

EL DORADO – The Benton Lady Panthers ended their 15-game winning streak and their perfect conference season with a 43-39 double-overtime loss to the El Dorado Lady Wildcats on Tuesday night in 6A South conference action to end the regular season.

“I think we played about as bad as we could possibly play,” Benton Coach Jerry Chumley said. “We missed a lot of easy shots and we didn’t have the intensity that we needed. We didn’t play with any urgency. It just wasn’t a very good ball game.”

The Lady Panthers (21-7, 13-1 6A South) clinched the conference on Friday during Senior Night so the urgency wasn’t there for the team, and Benton played like there was no urgency.

“It may have had something to do with that,” Chumley said about the Lady Panthers already clinching. “El Dorado played about as good as they can play. They played a really good ball game. For whatever reason, we didn’t take care of the ball and didn’t play with that intensity on the defensive end that we normally play with.”

Benton committed over 20 turnovers and had chances to win the game, but couldn’t get it done even though the Lady Panthers beat El Dorado 45-19 when the two teams met earlier in the season in Benton.

The Lady Panthers missed a wide-open layup at the end of regulation and had the ball with 7 second remaining in the second overtime, but never got a shot off.

“We had a lot of chances to win the game,” Chumley said. “We just made a bunch of poor decisions throughout the game, the end of the fourth quarter and the two overtimes. Not making good decisions with the ball, taking bad shots and playing without poise – just really not typical of us.”

Junior post player Madison Brooks led the Lady Panthers with 10 points and sophomore Allison Reynolds followed with nine. Junior forward Korie Parker added seven points.

Benton’s win streak started with a 55-41 win against Searcy in the Battle at the Brier tournament in Greenbrier on Dec. 22 and the Lady Panthers just missed finishing undefeated in the 6A South conference.

“The streak is stopped at 15,” Chumley said. “I’m really proud of our girls for winning the conference championship and everything, and going through the streak. It’s been a fun ride, but now we have to regroup and get ourselves ready for the state tournament.”

Depending on outcomes, the Lady Panthers will play either Jonesboro or Marion in the state tournament held in El Dorado. Benton will be a No. 1 seed and are scheduled to play Tuesday at 1 p.m.

“They don’t care if we won the conference or not,” Chumley said of their future opponents. “We got to get ready to play them.”

The Benton Panthers dropped a 59-48 decision to the El Dorado Wildcats in 6A South action on Tuesday night in El Dorado.

The Panthers (19-9, 9-5 6A South) were down 7-0 early before going into the second quarter down 16-10. Benton outscored El Dorado (15-10, 7-7) 11-6 in the second quarter to go into the half trailing 22-21.

The two teams were even in the third quarter at 17 points apiece, but El Dorado got the Panthers out of their comfort zone and ended up making a run in the fourth to get the victory.

“We came back and felt good,” Benton Assistant Coach Dwaine Fishburne said. “It was just a matter of getting some stops and making some shots. It sounds simple, but we needed to put the ball in the hole and get some stops and we didn’t do it.”

Junior 6-9 post player Graham Gardner led the Panthers with 16 points and junior guard Quin Allen made steals and transition buckets to finish with 15 points.

Done with their regular season, the Panthers will take the No. 3 seed in the state tournament held in El Dorado and will play the No. 6 seed Marion at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.