Bentonville’s girls enter this week really needing a win, in more ways than one.
With four games left in the regular-season schedule, the Lady Tigers (11-12, 4-6 7A-West) can clinch a berth in the state tournament with one more win and a Bentonville West loss. Bentonville, however, needs a win to improve its situation in the Class 7A state tournament seedings.
If the season ended now, the Lady Tigers would be the No. 6 seed and would likely face Conway or Fort Smith Northside in a first-round game.
There is not much room for error on Bentonville’s side now, especially since its 59-47 loss to Springdale Har-Ber means the Lady Wildcats have the tie-breaker advantage now. The Lady Tigers trail Rogers High and Springdale High by two games, but those games loom on the horizon this week.
Bentonville will host Springdale on Tuesday night, then will make the short trip Friday to Rogers. The Lady Tigers could greatly improve their seeding chances with a sweep this week, but it won’t be easy.
Bentonville did make a comeback at Springdale last month to take a 54-52 victory. The Lady Tigers trailed 45-36 with 5:31 remaining but rallied past the Lady Red’Dogs with a 17-3 run, including Avery Hughes’ layup with 10 seconds left to put Bentonville ahead.
Things weren’t so easy in a home game against Rogers, though. The Lady Tigers couldn’t get a shot to fall in the fourth quarter, and Elise Randels’ free throw with 10.4 seconds remaining gave the Lady Mounties a 45-44 victory as Lauren Hargus’ shot didn’t fall before the buzzer sounded.
Bentonville’s chances of winning the 7A-West title took a hit Friday night with an overtime loss to Springdale Har-Ber, but the Tigers can’t worry about that at the moment.
What Bentonville can do, however, is make big steps toward clinching a first-round bye in the state tournament. They get the opportunity to do that against the two teams that currently stand at the bottom of the 7A-West standings — at home Tuesday against Springdale and on the road Friday against Rogers.
The Tigers (12-10, 8-2) currently enjoy a two-game lead against Rogers Heritage and Van Buren, which Bentonville defeated Tuesday night and completed the season sweep. Bentonville can knock Van Buren out of the running by winning both games or one win and a Van Buren loss, and a Tigers sweep this week with a Heritage loss could knock the War Eagles out of the picture.
Bentonville will need some help if the Tigers want to win the 7A-West title. Their loss to Har-Ber gave the Wildcats a season sweep and a tiebreaker advantage, meaning Bentonville needs Har-Ber to lose at least two of its remaining four games in order to have a shot at winning the title.