Comets get past Panthers in 2nd Rd.

Benton senior Connor Croft goes up for a bucket in a game earlier this season. Croft set a school record taking six charges in a 52-43 loss to the Mills Comets Thursday in the Spa City Shootout in Hot Springs.  GREG DAVIS/Special to The Saline Courier
Tony Lenahan
Sports Editor

After defeating Mountain Pine by double digits in the Spa City Shootout opener on Wednesday, the Benton Panthers took on the Mills Comets, one of the top teams in the state, on Thursday in Round 2. The Panthers gave the Comets all they wanted as it was a 2-point game with under two minutes remaining, but Benton would eventually fall 52-43 to Mills at the Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs to snap a six-game win streak.
“It was a great game for us,” Benton Coach Dexter Hendrix said. “We really competed. We knew Little Rock Mills is a top team in the state. They’ve beaten Parkview and some really talented teams. We knew it would be a really fun game to compete in and see where we’re out. I thought our kids competed very well.”
The Panthers and Comets were tied 25-all at the half and Mills took a 38-35 lead after three. Benton would go blow for blow with Mills and were down just 45-43 with 1:35 left. But, senior Jai Peters, the Panthers’ leading scorer, assist man and steals man, fouled out with two minutes left.
“A big turning point in the game was when Jai Peters fouled out with two minutes left in the game,” Hendrix said. “You know how important Jai is to the team … Mills pulled the ball out trying to make us foul and while we were doing that Jai picked up his fifth. They made some free throws and we had some late turnovers without Jai in there that hurt us.”