The Booneville Bearcats seemed well on their way to going to the finals of the third annual Bearcat Classic as midway through the third quarter, a Josh Scott layup had staked the Cats to a 34-18 lead over Cossatot River.

But someone failed to tell the Eagles that they were done and, aided by missed Bearcat free throws and offensive rebounds that led to scores, they came all the way back and tied the game at 49 by the end of regulation. They then shut out the Cats in overtime to win 61-49; the Eagles would go on to win the championship with a similar second-half surge to beat Waldron 73-54.

The LadyCats dropped their first-round game to Two Rivers and for a time it looked like Mansfield would exact revenge on Booneville for a loss the previous week at Hackett. But Beth Wilkinson was not about to let that happen as she put the team on her back. By the time it was over Wilkinson had amassed 35 points, pulled down 13 rebounds, and the LadyCats had a 65-57 victory. The score itself was surprising as Booneville’s win in the Hackett tournament was by 31-18.

Wilkinson hit 17 free throws in the game, tying Kiersten Black’s 2007 single-game record, and her 23 attempts was one shy of the record, also set by Black in that same game which was against Cedarville.

Cossatot River’s girls made it a sweep of the championships for the Class 3A school, which is a consolidation of Wickes and Van-Cove. The Lady Eagles downed Polk County rival Acorn by 16 in the finals.

Two Rivers 37 Lady Cats 17

A Bailey Denton basket was the only points Booneville could muster in the first quarter, and Grace Coates had six to lead the Lady Gators to a seven-point lead. The lead ballooned for TR in the second quarter as Booneville would not score a field goal, the only point coming on a Kasidey Thompson free throw. Coates added eight more points and the Lady Gators led 22-3 at the break.

Booneville’s defense got more stingy in the second half and the offense started to click a bit as well. Following two Coates free throws—she finished with 20 points—Denton scored twice in quick succession, then two Beth Wilkinson free throws after a TR basket would have assured a winning quarter except that Cortney Gadberry sank a three late in the quarter to give TR a 29-9 lead. Each team racked up eight points in the fourth quarter, with Denton and Thompson splitting the LadyCat points equally. Denton led BHS with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Bearcats 63 Two Rivers 28

Caden Yarborough fired home three quick three-pointers and followed with a layup as he personally outscored the Gators 11-7 in the first six minutes. TR got within two before Adam Haney hit from 15 to end the period with a 13-7 BHS lead. After the teams traded baskets, Logan Bradley dropped one in and Tucker Knight scored twice to make it a 10-point game.. The Gators closed the gap to four, but Haney nailed a three and scored on a layup late in the quarter, giving Booneville a 30-21 halftime cushion.

The Cats then buried TR under a barrage of shots early in the third quarter. Knight started it with a layup and Haney would add two threes and Dalton Parrish one in an eventual 20-1 run. It was 50-22 before a late Gator three-ball made the margin 25 after three. Booneville wasted little time getting the game to the sportsmanship rule as a Jacob Gregory layup made it 58-28. He, Matt Tillery and Tyler Hall all notched their first points of the season in the fourth quarter. Haney led BHS with 15 points and six assists while Yarborough scored 14 for the Cats.

Lady Cats 65 Mansfield 57

Booneville quickly had a 9-2 lead thanks to an opening layup by Karlie Campos, two baskets and two free throws by Beth Wilkinson, and an Adria Coffer free throw. Mansfield got within two but Wilkinson converted a three-point play for a 12-7 BHS lead after one. Bailey Denton nailed two at the line and Wilkinson hit from 15 to stretch the lead to nine, but the Lady Tigers scored the next 11 points—six by Brooklyn Carlton—and took the lead. Booneville tied it twice but Mansfield then scored six more in a row. In all MHS outscored the LadyCats 24-13 in the quarter and took a six-point lead into the locker room.

Kasidey Thompson opened the third-quarter scoring and layups by Campos and Denton brought the LadyCats within two, but Mansfield responded with the next two baskets. Later, Morgan Stokes extended the MHS lead to seven with a three-pointer, and another, delivered by Rylea Weaver off the glass, stretched the lead to nine before for LadyCat free throws—three by Wilkinson—brought them within 47-42 after three.

But the fourth quarter was dominated by Wilkinson, starting with a steal and layup followed by an 8-footer. Mansfield responded with two from the line but Wilkinson repaid those, and Booneville was within 49-48. MHS scored the next four but Wilkinson got those back plus one more, then Sabreena Alfaro added another to tie the score. On the ensuing play, Denton made a steal and converted a three-point play, and BHS was ahead to stay. It came down to free throws at the end and not only did Wilkinson bury four and add a layup, but Alfaro stepped up and hit three of four toward the end.

Wilkinson became only the third LadyCat—Karen Wilkins and Jenny Mikles being the others—to score at least 35 points in a game, and the junior also added 13 rebounds. Denton contributed 15 points and nine rebounds. In all Booneville shot 45 free throws—believed to be a record—making 29 on their way to their highest scoring game in almost six years. Mansfield finished the game with only four players as five Lady Tigers fouled out.

Cossatot River 61 Bearcats 49 (OT)

It was another fast start for the Cats as two Tucker Knight layups, another by Josh Scott and a Camryn Lawson three put the Cats up 9-3 after one, and it would have been more except BHS was 0-4 from the line. Caden Yarborough finally got on the scoreboard in the second period, scoring seven of Booneville’s first 10 points of the quarter, the rest provided by a second Lawson three-ball. Another Yarborough score made it 21-10, but in the interim Booneville had also gone 1-5 from the stripe. Yarborough partially rectified that by hitting two late in the first half as the Bearcats enjoyed a 25-13 lead.

Booneville continued their onslaught through the first half of the third quarter as Adam Haney scored twice, Scott once and Mason Weaver added a reverse layup to go with a Chandler Fritsche free throw. The Scott basket made it 34-18 but then the Cats began to run into trouble. The Eagles stepped up the pressure and within 90 seconds they had cut the lead to nine. A third Lawson bonus ball temporarily halted that run, but Cossatot made it a 12-2 run and drew within six. Scott, however, converted a three-point play late in the quarter but CR’s Juan Trinidad banked in a three to get his team within 40-34 after three.

A Scott layup started the fourth quarter but Drayvon Broach fired in a three in response. Baskets by Fritsche and Haney temporarily warded off the Eagles but Cossatot was doing what the Cats couldn’t—hit free throws. Trinidad and Keelan Youngblood each hit a pair, and the two would combine for two more points each after a Yarborough basket to make it 48-47. Haney hit one of two from the line, but Cody Baker drove for a layup to tie the score. Booneville had the last shot but a Haney 12-footer was off the mark. Baker hit a free throw to start the overtime and then Yarborough had a chance to put the Cats ahead, but he missed both ends of a two-shot opportunity, then the front half of a one-and-one. After that it was all Eagles as Baker nailed two, Broach beat the pressure for a layup and then the Eagles polished it off by hitting seven of eight from the line.

Yarborough scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, but he had only two points after halftime. Scott and Lawson finished with nine each. What doomed the Cats in the end was their inability to hit free throws. They were 8-for-30 (30%) while Cossatot dropped 29 of 39 (74%). “If we hit our free throws, we’re ahead 20 in the third quarter,” said coach Ronnie Denton.