It wasn’t exactly a David-Goliath confrontation because each team is a Goliath in its own classification.
But Class 7A Fayetteville’s 49-42 victory over Class 1A Guy-Perkins in Tuesday’s first-round boys matchup in the First Security/John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational featured a heavyweight exchange of blows and big plays at Buzz Bolding Arena.
The Thunderbirds (12-4) led most of the game and 31-30 going into the final quarter.
They recorded the most bigtime play when Thunderbird guard Brandon Rooney pulled up in transition and lobbed a picture-perfect alley-oop pass to Denell Henderson for a resounding, highlight-quality slam dunk.
Guy was within 38-37 with 2:52 left and 41-39 with 2:39 remaining. Two free throws by Malik Fields and a transition basket by Tyler McCullough finally pulled the Purple Dogs away for good as Thunderbirds couldn’t get three 3-point attempts to fall during a furious last-minute onslaught.
"We had our chances," Guy-Perkins coach John Hutchcraft said. "It was a game that every possession and every shot mattered. This was not a typical up-and-down Guy-Perkins game. We played like they played and that was our plan.
"I was pleased with our boys. We played like winners."
The Bulldogs, frustrated by Guy-Perkins’ zone defense, missed an assortment of shots at point-blank range (sometimes two or three per possession).
"That was the first zone we had seen all year," said Fayetteville coach Kyle Adams as his team moved to 4-2. "Our inside kids really struggled. No excuses. No 32 (Guy’s Denell Henderson) may have intimidated us a little bit. But we missed a lot of easy shots, the kind 6-7 and 6-9 players should make. We are better shooters than that. But we did what we had to do to win."
"We had some 3-pointers we normally hit and we just missed them in key situation," Hutchcraft said. "We had the momentum when Bradley (Holbrook) hit a 3 then Brandon Rooney stole the ball for a layup and a five-point swing (helping the T-Birds to a 31-27 lead late in the third quarter), but we couldn’t keep it."
Hooten and Henderson each had 14 points for Guy-Perkins. Rooney added eight. Kyle Graves, a 6-foot-1 forward from Fayetteville, led all scorers with 16.
Conway girls 65, Jacksonville 32
The Lady Cats scored the first seven points and were never really challenged as they took a 17-point lead early in the second quarter and coasted to a 65-32 victory.
CHS coach Ashley Nance played her entire 16-player roster.
"At times, our second group played just as good as the first group. At one time tonight they played did better and I left them in for awhile," Nance said. "We are developing some depth that we’re going to need in conference."
Taylor Gault took control for Conway early on the way to 17 points. Enjonae Chambers added 13. Kiahna Doby came off the bench to add eight and Alexus Clardy had seven.
Jessica Jackson, the Lady Red Devils 6-1 sophomore guard who is rated one of the top sophomores in the state, led the visitors with 14.
"Somebody that tall who can dribble like she can is tough to guard," Nance said. "It was good for us to go against someone with that much athleticism because we haven’t seen that yet. She looks like a type of player we’re going to see in the conference like at North Little Rock and some other places."
Vilonia girls 38, Springdale 30
Vilonia, the defending girls champion in the tournament, held off Springdale, despite having only three field goals the second half — two of those on uncontested layups after turnovers in the last 27.3 seconds.
Maggie Brewer hit a 3-pointer with 5:24 left in the third period and that was all until the cheap stuff during the final flurry.
The Lady Eagles had only nine field goals for the game. Catherine Puckett as the leading scorer with 12 on eight of 10 free-throw shooting. Betsy Barlett added eight points.
Springdale threw double-digit passes most of the second half in trying to get the ball inside against Vilonia’s 2-3 zone.
"They were big and strong inside and we couldn’t stop their post players in man," said Vilonia coach Alvin Riley. "We had to go to the zone where we had some help. I didn’t want to press them much and risk giving up an easy basket."
The Lady Eagles (5-0), who led almost wire to wire were clinging to a 32-30 lead with 1:26 left when Puckett hit two free throws. The Lady Bulldogs (1-4) turned the ball over three times in a row, leading to layups by Brewer and Bartlett."I didn’t know we just had one field goal until then; I just knew we weren’t playing worth a dime," Riley said. "We have a long ways to go to get to where we want to be."
Conway boys 60, Vilonia 45
The Wampus Cats, the defending class 7A champions, seem to intimidate the Eagles early with their defensive pressure a quickness, scoring the first 10 poingts and surging to a 30-8 lead after 10 minutes.
The Eagles settled down and pulled within respectable range at 36-22 at the half.
Vilonia hurt the smaller Wampus Cats inside and scrapped the hosts tooth-and-nail the second half, pulling within 10 on two occasions. The Cats, forced to play their regulars the entire game, hit just enough shots and played just well enough to hold the Eagles at bay.
Tim Boyd led the Cats with 18 points. Micah Delph had 14 and Everett Reed seven.
Vilonia post Sean Talbert led all scorers with 20. Seth Gordon added nine and Anthony Heykoop added eight.
First Security John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational
4 p.m.: Springdale vs. LR Fair girls
5:30 p.m.: Guy-Perkins vs. North Pulaski boys
7 p.m.: Jacksonville vs. Benton girls
8:30 p.m.: Vilonia vs. Sylvan Hills boys
4 p.m.: Vilonia vs. Nettleton girls
5:30 p.m.: Fayetteville vs. Jonesboro boys
7 p.m.: Conway vs. Alma girls
8:30 p.m. Conway vs. Jacksonville boys