By Tony Burns
SMACKOVER - Smackover maintained its composure when things got chippy in a season-on-the-line game at the 8AAA District Tournament. The Buckaroos used an 8-0 spurt to pull away in the fourth quarter and win 57-54 over Lake Village.
Smackover improved to 6-17 and, with the win, qualified for next week’s regional tournament at Fordyce.
“It wasn’t a pretty win but, no doubt, I’m glad we got it,” said Smackover coach Reggie Turner. “Coming into this week, I told them I was going to try to put them in the best position to win every single week. Tonight’s game was about moving on and advancing. I’m glad to see my guys are getting a chance to go and play in Fordyce for a chance to go to the state tournament after the up-and-down season we’ve had.
“I’m glad the guys came out and fought hard and got this hard-fought win. Sometimes, that’s what you need in order to wake you up.”
The Bucks won despite shooting just 11-of-27 at the free throw line. The Beavers, meanwhile, picked up three technical fouls in the third quarter - one on the bench and two on players. Both teams were warned at times during the game for talking too much.
“I thought my players handled it well,” said Turner. “The kids from Lake Village kind of dug themselves a hole. I’m just glad my guys stood up and did the right thing.”
Smackover jumped out to a 10-4 lead before the Beavers used a 13-0 run, attacking the rim for lay-ups, and built a 17-15 lead after one quarter. Lake Village led 31-27 at the half.
The second half was a different story as Smackover got into a zone, defensively, which stopped Lake Village’s parade through the lane.
“We knew they had a pretty good guard coming in. We knew we had to play some zone to keep him out of the paint a little bit. That’s what we did in the second half,” said Turner. “We got out of our man-to-man because we got into foul trouble. Due to our depth, we couldn’t afford to stay in man. We had to shift to the zone and that’s how we were able to slow them down some.”
Bryce Lockhart’s 3-pointer helped Smackover gain a 40-37 advantage going into the fourth. Lockhart hit another 3-pointer as the Bucks’ lead swelled to 48-39 with 5:20 left in the fourth.
Dez Williams answered with a 3-pointer for Lake Village. But, the Bucks hit enough free throws and putbacks to carry a 54-46 lead into the final three minutes.
Malachi Armour, who led all scorers with 18, hit a pair at the line for the Beavers, who cut the deficit to 54-50. Moments later, Armour got loose on a breakaway, slashing to the hoop for a lay-up. The whistle blew but, instead of a three-point opportunity, Armour picked up his fifth foul with 1:39 left on the clock.
The Bucks spread the floor on offense before Darnious White got free for a lay-up. The Beaver didn’t trim the lead to three until the final shot of the game.
Tre Mitchell scored 15 for Lake Village.
Lockhart led Smackover with 15 points while K.J. King scored 14. Peyton Jones and Corbin Lee chipped in with nine and eight, respectively.
In the lone senior girls game of the day Drew Central knocked off Lake Village 48-34.