Bentonville’s boys kicked off the 58th annual Neosho Holiday Classic in style on Wednesday with a convincing victory over the Neosho Wildcats, 59-34.
A physical brand of play was key for the Tigers as the Wildcats didn’t get many good looks at the basket and turned the ball over too much. Bentonville took command of the scoreboard when it opened the game on a 17-2 run. The Tigers led 21-4 at the end of the first period.
Austin Heard scored all seven of his points in the first, but his minutes, along with the rest of the starters, was limited the remainder of the way. In all 12 players scored for the Tigers as leading scorer Nick Smith finished with 11 points.
A team ravaged by the flu bug in the past week, the Wildcats were missing leading scorer Darrian Guillory, as well as other key contributors who were not 100 percent for the contest. Regardless, the Wildcats got their offense going in the second quarter with 11 points, but trailed 35-15 at the half. Bentonville extended its lead to 48-22 by the end of the third quarter before being outscored by the Wildcats (12-11) in the fourth.
“(We’ve) just got to keep playing and keep getting through it,” Wildcats coach Jason Horn said. “We had a two or three minute burst where we weren’t too bad, and then we’d have stretches, six or eight minutes, where we weren’t very good.
“We have to start flipping those over and limit the bad stretches. One thing is (our team) never gave up.”
Daniel Head chipped in four points for the Tigers while Tyrik Dixon added seven, Ryan Sanchez three, Zack Estrada four, Sean Guillory six, Mason McNee four, Ben Smith four, Johnny Drechny four, Mitchell Williams three and Tyler Livingston two.
Trey Turner paced the Wildcats with 11 points while Kaden Roy tossed in five, Logan Stuart two, Andy Lett two, Caden Hendricks five, Brett Williams six and Justin McKee three.
The Tigers advance to take on St. Joseph Lafayette at 12:30 p.m. today while the Wildcats square off against Morrilton (Ark.) at 3:30.