School made just second appearance in basketball state tournament.
There was reason for optimism after the first half of the Bearcats’ state tournament game against Jonesboro Westside, even though Booneville was down by nine. They had shot 54 percent in the first half and while the Warriors had shot 63 percent, one would have thought that Westside couldn’t continue to shoot that well.
But Westside continued their hot hand while Booneville went ice cold. They were 3-for-36 in the field for the second half, while the Warriors did not cool down much, and Westside ran away with a 72-43 win. The Warriors used the game as a springboard to a run and will play Baptist Prep in the 4A state championship game.
Still, the Bearcats had a history making season, reaching 20 wins for the first time and breaking at least 14 individual or team records along the way. And with most of the players returning and the Cats dropping to Class 3A, the stage may be set for another record-breaking year in 2018-19.
JB Westside 72 Bearcats 43
Westside went on an 18-4 run to start the game, but the Cats put together a rally. Logan Bradley hit a three-pointer to start it off, then Blakley Cobb hit twice and Nate Riley once to get BHS within 18-13 before Avery Felts got a layup to put Westside ahead 20-13 after one. Riley Felkins converted a three-point play to put JBW up by 10 but after an exchange of baskets, Cobb went on a personal 7-2 run, including two three-pointers, to get the Cats within five. A Bradley three-point play canceled a Westside three-pointer, but the Warriors responded with six straight before Cobb sank two free throws for 36-27. Westside went back up by 12, but Cobb scored twice more and Riley hit a three-ball for 41-34. Two Warrior free throws set the halftime score.
After Bradley hit a free throw to start the third quarter, the roof caved in on the Cats as Westside hit six three-pointers in the quarter. The first two were by Riley Felkins; the other four were rung up by older brother Cullen Felkins, who was hitting shots with Bearcats flying at him from all directions. The second of Cullen Felkins’ threes made it 57-35. Bradley would hit the only two field goals of the quarter and Cullen Felkins added two more threes for a 65-39 lead after three. He would grab his fifth of the half and sixth overall at the start of the fourth quarter, then Felts made a steal and scored on a layup, starting the running clock. The only Booneville points of the final quarter were scored by Jacob Gregory, who would hit two free throws, then make a steal and layup for the Cats’ final points of the season.
Cobb had 17 points—all in the first half—and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Bradley almost matched it with 17 points and nine rebounds. But only two other Bearcats would score, while the Felkins brothers combined for 41 points while Felts had 18 and handed out eight assists.
It was truly a season like no other for the Bearcats, who set team records for most games played and won, as well as assists, rebounds, shots blocked and charges taken. They just missed records for points scored and defensive average; still, their 47-points-per game defensive average was the lowest in 35 years.
On an individual basis, Logan Bradley broke the season records for rebounds and blocks, as well as the game and career records in the latter category. Camryn Lawson shattered the team record for assists while Chandler Fritsche reset the marks for charges taken both in a season and career. Furthermore, Blakley Cobb became the first Bearcat to score 500 points in a season since Brett Green in 1982-83. Cobb and Fritsche played every game this season, becoming the first Bearcats to play 35 games in a single campaign.
Fritsche, Jacob Gregory and Jordan Hawkins will be the only players graduating, leaving a very strong team for 2018-19. In addition to those mentioned above, Nate Riley, Mason Weaver, Brandon Bradley and Tyler Hall played key roles at one point or another in the season and there is a bevy of players who toiled on the JV last season who are eager to get a shot at increased playing time. Further, a group of freshmen moving up to the senior high team next season want to make their mark. With the move back to 3A and a host of new teams in the league, the Bearcats should have another banner season —maybe literally this time —in 2018-19.