Miners' season continues with win in district

MALVERN – The Bauxite Miners’ season will continue as they picked up a 41-33 win against the Ashdown Panthers Wednesday night in the 7-4A district tournament held at the Bill Hunt Fieldhouse in Malvern. The Miners qualified for the regional tournament next week, but first have to face the No. 1 team in the 4A conference, Pulaski Academy.

“This time of year it’s a one-game season,” Bauxite Coach Mark Smith said. “It’s game to game and our guys, our seniors, we told them if you don’t want your career to be over, you’ve got to step it up.”

Step it up they did as senior Cody McPherson scored 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Miners (14-12, 7-8 7-4A).

Bauxite jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first quarter aided by four points from junior post player Tyler Hill. Sophomore Hunter Holder hit a 15-foot jump shot to cap the Miners’ start, but Christon Garrett took a pass from Daven Burns and got the bucket and was fouled. He hit the free throw to make it an 8-4 Miners’ advantage after one.

The Miners’ lead would not last long. After Holder found Hill for a layup for the first points of the second quarter, the Panthers went on an 11-2 run including seven consecutive points from Burns and nine total to give Ashdown a 17-14 lead with 2:31 left in the half. Down 19-15 after Burns got an offensive rebound and put back, junior James Perry found McPherson for a layup and Bauxite trailed 19-17 at halftime.

McPherson opened the second half by getting fouled after a layup twice in a row to put the Miners up 22-19 at the 5:12 mark of the third quarter, but Burns got a bucket and was fouled to make it a 22-22 game with 3:03 left to play. The Miners would take a 27-24 lead going into the fourth.

After getting up by four with 6:25 left, the Panthers tied it after Garrett picked up a steal and a layup, making it 29-29 with 5:24 left. McPherson hit a 17-foot jumper and Hill hit two free throws to put the Miners up four, but Ashdown would not go away. It was 35-33 with 2:10 left when McPherson was fouled for a one-and-one and he hit both free throws to go up by four points. Sophomore Trent Rooks picked up a huge offensive rebound and put back at the 1:17 mark to make it 39-33, ultimately sealing the game.

“I thought our guys executed late in the game real well,” Smith said. “Cody stepped up and made a couple of really big shots and stepped to the line and made some big free throws. That was really the difference; extending our lead where we could kind of milk it out.”

Hill finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Miners. Hill and McPherson accounted for 90 percent of the Miners’ scoring. Holder added two points and four assists.

For the Panthers, Burns finished with 14 points on 6 of 6 from the field and 2 of 2 from the foul line, and grabbed 10 rebounds.

“[Assistant] Coach [Andy] Brakebill did a really good job of scouting and breaking down tape and watching what they do on offense,” Smith said. “We didn’t hardly give up any perimeter shots. We switched up some defense late in the game to kind of offset them a little bit.

“It was a big win. I’m really proud of our guys and we’ll see where it goes from here.”

The Miners continue district tournament play when they take on the Bruins of Pulaski Academy tonight at 5:20 in Malvern.