Benton clinches spot in state tourney

Benton senior Makenzy Davidson, 25, goes up for a shot in a 44-39 victory over the El Dorado Lady Cats on senior night at Benton Arena. Davidson scored a game-high 14 points in the win to help the Lady Panthers clinch a spot in the state tournament.  GREG DAVIS/Special to The Saline Courier
Sports Editor

Facing state tournament elimination on senior night Friday, the Benton Lady Panthers stepped up to the challenge in 5A South Conference action at Benton Arena. Excellent defensively but struggling mightily offensively the past month, the Lady Panthers picked up their play, hitting 9 of 13 from beyond the arc in a 44-39 victory over the El Dorado Lady Wildcats to clinch a state tournament bid.
“It was do-or-die, really,” said Benton Coach Jerry Chumley. “Kind of like a playoff game. There’s also a scenario where we still could get third. If we beat Lake Hamilton, we’ll be third, or if we don’t beat Lake Hamilton, but Lakeside beats Hot Springs, we can be third.
“It was nice to respond the way we did with our backs against the wall a little bit. We had to have something happen and the girls came out firing.”
The Lady Panthers (15-11, 8-5) are now tied for third place with Hot Springs in the South and a victory Tuesday over conference leader Lake Hamilton (11-2) will clinch third place and a three seed in the state tourney.
Read the rest in Sunday's The Saline Courier.