Girls end season with win, Bearcats advance to regionals

Chuck Hayes
Booneville sophomore Leigh Swint (5) shoots a free throw against Hackett in a district tournament game at Booneville on Feb. 13.  Swint hit 12 of 16 from the stripe in the Ladycats’ 48-39 win. The Ladycats finished with a 13-9 record for the season after the remainder of the district tournament was canceled.

In the first round of the 4-3A district tournament last Saturday, the Booneville Ladycats held off a determined Hackett team. Runs of 14 points in the second quarter and seven in the third period proved to be enough to take the win, 48-39, on Feb. 13.

The Ladycats scored half their points (24 for 36) from the free throw line, with Leigh Swint accounting for half of those as she went 12 for 16.

However, because of the two winter storms that came through the area and left most roads treacherous, the district last Wednesday decided to cancel the remainder of the tournament, with the top four teams from the regular season advancing on to regionals at Bergman.

Therefore, that win proved to be the last game for the Ladycats this season, as they had entered the tournament as the fifth seed. They finished the season with a record of 13-9, their first winning season since 2003-04.

Benefiting from the conference’s decision was the boys’ team. By virtue of their being the fourth seed, the Bearcats will advance to the regional tournament where they will play the host Bergman Panthers on Wednesday, Feb. 24  at 1 pm.

The Bearcats carry a 14-5 record into the regional tournament, while the Panthers are 24-4 so far this season. The teams have no common opponents; Bergman had been slated to play Paris and Cedarville during the season, but both games were canceled.

Ladycats 48, Hackett 39

Booneville spent a large amount of time at the free throw line in the first quarter as their only field goal came via a Hayley Roberts layup. Leigh Swint added six free throws and Heaven Sanchez one, but a pair of three-pointers by Hackett, including one at the buzzer by Kyleigh Hill, knotted the score at 9 after one. The Ladycats continued to make hay at the line in the second quarter, shooting 14 and making 11 in the first three minutes of the period with Swint hitting five and Sanchez four. Joleigh Tate dropped a three-pointer to add to the lead and finished a 14-0 run with a layup. The Booneville lead grew to 27-12 late in the quarter before the Lady Hornets cut it to 29-18 at halftime.

Hackett continued their rally in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 30-26 at one point, before Roberts scored twice and Swint once. Tate’s free throw made it 37-26 after three and the Ladycats maintained that lead until midway through the fourth quarter. Hackett’s Madi Taylor then hit back-to-back threes to cut it to 41-36 with two minutes left. Sanchez halted the run with two free throws and the Lady Hornets then turned it over on an offensive foul. Booneville ran some clock and then Layla Byrum banked in a three-pointer for 46-36. Tate then added two from the line to ice it.

Swint scored 14 points, 12 of which came from the line. Sanchez added 10, with Roberts and Tate adding nine apiece. That duo also accounted for 20 rebounds, with Roberts claiming 11 of them. 

Bearcats to Face Bergman

By the time Booneville takes the court today, they will not have played a game in 15 days. They will be trying to bounce back from a loss to Waldron on Feb. 9. In that game, Jordan Sanchez led the team in scoring with 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds as well, with Jacob Herrera adding 10.

Those two are joined by fellow seniors Austin Hill, Blake Jones and Ty Goff. Hill and Jones have combined for 82 three-pointers this season, with Jones hitting 43% from behind the arc. Goff has been unable to play this season due to an injury suffered in football but has been supportive of his teammates during the season.

The Bearcats were without Mason Goers and C.J. Johnson for the Waldron game; it is hoped that they will return in time for the regional matchup. Goers also missed several games prior to that.

Bergman was rolling through their conference undefeated, but the Panthers also had several games canceled due to weather or other issues. They too will be coming off a long layoff, with their last game being a 68-26 rout of Greenland on Feb. 5.