With wins over Mansfield and Waldron last week, combined with other results around the blended conference, the Booneville Bearcats find themselves in uncharted territory going into the last week of the regular season.

The Cats (16-8, 9-3 combined conference) are in a 4-way tie for first place with Subiaco, Ozark and Paris going into last night’s home game against the Hillbillies. If Booneville wins both games, they would do no worse than tie with Subiaco for first place. The conference seedings for the district tournament in Subiaco next week will be decided by the conference coaches.

Caden Yarborough came up a steal short of a triple-double against Mansfield, with 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine steals. The thefts set a new team record, beating the previous record of eight that had been set by Jordan Cobb in a 2006 game against Hackett. In the process Yarborough passed the season steal record, which had also been set by Cobb.

The Lady Cats took their fourth win over Mansfield this season, but came up inches short against Waldron as a tying three-point effort clanked off the front of the rim.

LadyCats 41 Mansfield 30

In the first quarter, Booneville’s strategy was simply to find Karlie Campos. The 6-3 post player took advantage of an undersized Mansfield team to score 10 first-quarter points. A Beth Wilkinson free throw put the LadyCats up 11-6 after one. The Lady Tigers took away Campos in the second quarter but that meant freer rein for Wilkinson who scored the next eight points as BHS led 19-7. Bailey Denton hit two free throws and Sabreena Alfaro added another for a 22-10 halftime lead.

After a Wilkinson layup started the third quarter, Denton took over the offensive load. The junior started it with a putback and after Mansfield scored twice, she hit a three-pointer, scored from 8 and converted a three-point play as Booneville enjoyed a 18-point lead before a Lady Tiger three-pointer at the buzzer. MHS also scored the first two baskets of the fourth period but Wilkinson then scored three the hard way and Denton dropped in a 6-footer. At that point Booneville led 39-25, and the LadyCats were home free.

Wilkinson and Denton each scored 14 points to lead the LadyCats, with Campos adding 10 and Alfaro the other three. It was the fourth win for BHS over the Lady Tigers this season.

Bearcats 66 Mansfield 45

Both sides were raining three-pointers in the first quarter. After the teams swapped baskets to start the game, Adam Haney threw in two bonus balls and Caden Yarborough another, which offset two by the Tigers. Mason Weaver then scored for Booneville before Haney pulled up and hit from 8, then canned another three for 18-10. The Tigers’ Tyler Harper and Brennan James each hit a bonus shot to get them within 20-16 after one. Another James basket got the Tigers within two and they later got within 23-22, but Tucker Knight’s basket started a 10-3 run to end the period as a Logan Bradley tip-in made it 33-25 at halftime.

Booneville tallied the first seven points of the third quarter as they started pulling away. Bradley had a layup and three-point play in the run, which put Booneville on top 40-25. Yarborough hit a three, scored inside and then made a steal and layup for 49-32. The Cats led 51-35 after three and after Jason McAlister bagged a three for MHS, Booneville scored three baskets in a row for 57-38. The lead grew to as many as 23 and Weaver, who had scored the first basket of the game, also got the last.

Yarborough put in 18 points while pulling down 10 rebounds and stealing the ball nine times, while Haney scored 13 and handed out eight assists, one short of the school mark. Bradley added nine as Booneville grabbed their 15th win.

Waldron 38 LadyCats 35

Like Mansfield previously, Waldron couldn’t stop Karlie Campos early on. She scored the first seven LadyCat points to give BHS a three-point lead. After the Lady Bulldogs hit two from the line, Booneville got seven points in a hurry. Bailey Denton hit a free throw, then Beth Wilkinson converted a three-point play. Denton then fired a 25-footer at the buzzer and the bank was open, giving the LadyCats a 14-7 lead after one. It was a defensive showcase in the second quarter for Waldron as they limited Booneville to a Wilkinson basket and a Denton free throw, while they scored seven points and cut the BHS lead to 17-13 at the half.

The lid was on the basket for the LadyCats in the third quarter as they got only a Wilkinson free throw. Morgan Langley gave the Lady Bulldogs the lead on free throws late in the third quarter abd WHS led 21-18 after three. But Booneville, after Waldron had scored the first two points of the fourth quarter, got a layup from Denton and two from Wilkinson to retake the lead. Langley scored again but Denton tied it on a free throw, then Wilkinson made a steal and scored for 29-27. But after the teams traded baskets Waldron got the next five points and led by three. Campos scored on a set play but Waldron then hit a three. The LadyCats had opportunities from the line but could only score twice in four tries and so trailed 37-33 before Denton followed her own miss and bagged a 15-footer. Waldron hit one free throw and Booneville had six seconds to find a three-pointer. Denton got a good look, but her shot was just short of the mark.

Wilkinson led all scorers with 15 points with Denton scoring 11 and Campos the other nine. Free throws cost the LadyCats as they only hit 8 of 17 from the line, and they also missed several layups.

Bearcats 45 Waldron 43

Booneville blazed to an early 9-2 lead as Adam Haney started the scoring with a three-pointer. Caden Yarborough scored five points in that early run, but Waldron got all of it back as Jesse Chrisman fired in two threes, the last of which gave the Bulldogs a 10-9 lead after one. Chrisman nailed another bonus shot early in the second quarter, but Blakley Cobb and Tucker Siddons threw in back-to-back threes as BHS regained the lead. Trey Williams took it right back and Waldron eventually led by four before a Yarborough basket got it back to 24-22 at halftime.

The Bearcats racked up six in a row at the start of the third quarter, taking a 28-24 lead on two Yarborough free throws. After threes by Haney and Yarborough, Booneville was seemingly in control with a 34-26 lead but the Bulldogs fired right back with two of their own, cutting the lead to 34-32 after three. Williams tied the game to start the fourth quarter, but Yarborough and Tucker Knight each hit two free throws around a Waldron basket for 38-36. A Haney layup made it a four-point lead but Jeremy Tull threw in a three and after Yarborough got a free throw, Chrisman dropped his fifth three of the game and the Bulldogs had the lead.

Two Haney free throws returned the lead to the Cats and after a Chrisman miss Yarborough was fouled. The senior nailed both shots, but Chris Shaddon was fouled shooting a three with two seconds left. Shaddon hit the first but missed the second, and when he intentionally missed the third Logan Bradley grabbed his 13th rebound of the game and held the ball high as time expired. Yarborough scored 22 points and Haney added 10 for Booneville, while Chrisman scored 20 for Waldron.