Benton upsets Lady Wolves, snag 3 seed

Benton senior Kennedy Stringfellow shoots a 3-pointer in a game earlier this season. Stringfellow hit consecutive threes during a 12-0 run in the second quarter and finished with eight points in a 40-38 upset win over the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves Tuesday. GREG DAVIS/Special to The Saline Courier
Sports Editor

Going into last Friday’s game against El Dorado, the Benton Lady Panthers were fighting for a spot in the 5A State Tournament and clinched that spot with a win over the Lady Wildcats. On Tuesday, the Lady Panthers were going against the top team in the conference in the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves on the road and went from possibly missing the state tournament to clinching a No. 3 seed with a 40-38 upset victory in Pearcy on Lake Hamilton’s senior night.
The Lady Wolves (18-7, 11-3) still won the 5A South, with Sheridan second with a 10-4 record, but the Lady Panthers wrapped up that three seed with a 9-5 record, tied with Hot Springs, but Benton split with the Lady Trojans winning by more points to break the tie.
“You’re staring Nettleton in the face and everybody knows how good they are,” Benton Coach Jerry Chumley said of the state tourney. “Of course who we’re playing is going to be good, too, but were more interested right now is keep our good flow going. The kids are working hard, they’re smiling and having fun. Winning helps with that situation, but we just want to keep them healthy and keep them flowing for the week.”
The Lady Panthers (16-11, 9-5) have now won two straight going into next week’s state tourney at Lake Hamilton and will get the East’s No. 2 seed on Thursday at 4 p.m.

Wolves 55, Panthers 47
The Benton Panthers went up against the top team in the 5A South Conference in the Lake Hamilton Wolves Tuesday in Pearcy. A poor shooting night would lead to a 55-47 Benton loss as the Panthers finish the regular season with a 15-11 record overall, 7-7 in the South, while Lake Hamilton finishes with an undefeated 14-0 conference record.
The Panthers will have the South No. 4 seed in next week’s 5A State Tournament and play the East No. 1 Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at Lake Hamilton High School.
Benton senior Sawyer Oulch would get the scoring started Tuesday with a 3-pointer assisted by senior Maleek McClendon, and McClendon put the Panthers up 5-4 with a bucket assisted by junior Ethan Hilkert with 5:56 remaining, but Lake Hamilton’s Lane Kersey was fouled shooting a three, hit all three free throws putting the Wolves up 7-5, and Benton would never lead again.
Read the rest in Wednesday's The Saline Courier