Bearcats’ season ends at regional tournament

Chuck Hayes
Booneville senior Austin Hill (1) makes a move to the basket against Bergman’s Kaden Ponder (23) during the second half of Booneville’s regional game at Bergman on Wednesday. Hill led the Bearcats with 18 points, but Booneville’s season was ended with an 89-69 defeat.

For much of last Wednesday’s game, the Booneville Bearcats were able to match the up-tempo style of their opponents from Bergman in their regional tournament game.

The exception came in the second-quarter, when the Panthers outscored the Bearcats 25-5 to take a 29-point lead into halftime. The Cats came back off the deck in the third-quarter to get within range, knocking 13 points off the host team’s lead, but were unable to threaten further and had their season end with an 89–69 setback.

Still, it was heartening that Booneville took the battle to the Panthers in the second-half. The Bearcats racked up 50 points in the last 16 minutes, with seniors Austin Hill, Jacob Herrera and Blake Jones leading the way.

Bergman 89, Bearcats 69

Hill hit an early three-pointer to tie the score at 5, but Bergman responded with a 10-2 run. Jacob Herrera halted a three and then took a charge, setting up a layup by Hill that made it 15-12. The Panthers scored the next eight before Jordan Sanchez ended the period with a basket for 23-14. However, the Cats were beset by foul trouble and the Panthers were making no mistakes from the line. A layup by Hill, a Jones free throw and C.J. Johnson’s basket were all the Bearcats got in the quarter. By the end of the half, Bergman had scored the last 12 points, Jacob Herrera had four fouls, three other Bearcats had three, and the Panthers led 48-19.

But Mason Goers’ aggressive drive to the basket and two free throws set the tone for the third-quarter. The junior followed with a three-point play and after a response by Bergman, it was time for the Bearcats to make their own run. Jacob Herrera racked up 11 points and took a charge in less than three minutes, Evan Escobedo and Brooks Herrera made contributions and the 18-6 run culminated with a Brooks Herrera layup, which forced Bergman to call time out with the score 58-42. Jacob Herrera fouled out on the possession immediately after that, but Hill then took up the slack scoring the last five Booneville points of the third-quarter. Bergman scored nine in the interim and led 67–47 after three. Jones cashed in a three-pointer early in the fourth-quarter; he ended up scoring nine of his 10 points in the period and Hill added six more. But the Panthers’ depth was told in the end when 11 of their players had scored, four of them in double figures. Coach Ronnie Denton emptied the bench late and Raiden Ferguson with a three-pointer and Jaydon Forst with an acrobatic layup completed the scoring for the Cats.

Hill finished with 18 points and Jacob Herrera added 16, with Jones netting 10. Escobedo played well off the bench, scoring six points and getting three rebounds. However, the Panthers shot 59% from the field and 76% from the line and collected 45 rebounds to Booneville’s 26.