VAN BUREN -– Bentonville knocked Conway out of the state tournament last year in the first round.

Not this time.

The Lady Cats (19-8) avenged last season’s loss by posting a 55-42 victory over the Lady Tigers in first round action Thursday in the 7A state tournament. Conway built a 16-3 lead by the end of the first quarter, and they didn’t surrender its cushion for the entire contest. Conway’s biggest lead was by 26 late in the third quarter and the closest Bentonville got was nine in the second quarter.

"I thought our team came out with a lot of energy today," Conway coach Janet Taylor said. "I thought we did a great job on offense and stopping their transition game, which was probably their strength. It was just a great all-around effort."

Conway’s Taylor Gault was the game’s leading scorer with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting attempts from the floor. Tamara Heard was the only other Lady Cat who scored in double figures. She ended with 17 points on 7 of 10 from the field. The Lady Cats beat the Lady Tigers in rebounds 29-26 and they shot 48.1 percent from the field in the first half and 47.6 percent in the second.

For the Lady Tigers (15-14), Montana Lewis led with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

"I thought we did a good job of distributing the ball today," Taylor said. "I thought that we did good in transition by matching up and then stopping the ball. ... We knew that we had to be at our best today. Bentonville settled down after awhile and started going into their offense, but I thought the difference in the game was our intensity at the beginning."

Conway’s second round opponent, Rogers, had a bye in the first round after placing second in the 7A-West Conference. The Lady Mounties are led by their senior 5-foot-11 guard Morgan Hook. The game is slated for 7 tonight.

"We’re familiar foes with each other. I have all the respect and admiration in the world for coach (Preston) Early," Taylor said. "I can’t believe Hook hasn’t graduated yet. I’ve been hooked from the right, left, up the middle, so many times. What a great player she is. We’re going to enjoy this one and then go back to the film room. We know that certainly it’s no way of stopping her and we’re just hoping to contain her."