This could be the make-or-break week for Bentonville High’s boys as far as their place in the 7A-West Conference basketball standings is concerned.
The Tigers (11-9, 7-1) could find themselves anywhere from all alone in first place to down to third place by the end of the week, based on the results of two critical games.
Bentonville returns to action Tuesday night against a Van Buren team that has won six straight since the Pointers suffered a 67-47 loss to the Tigers to open league play last month. Then comes Springdale Har-Ber — the only team to beat Bentonville in league play — for a Friday night showdown in Tiger Arena in what could determine who will be on the top spot.
The biggest question right now for the Tigers is the status of senior starting guard Aaron Estrada this week. Estrada turned an ankle during Thursday’s practice and didn’t play in Friday’s 80-70 over Fayetteville, and coach Jason McMahan said Estrada’s status is questionable as of Monday morning.
The Tigers, however, did get some key contributions from other players in the win over Fayetteville. Arman Akbar had 18 points, and Luke Blackmon added 12 as part of four players in double figures.
Bentonville, however, had a 20-point lead around the 5-minute mark before Fayetteville made a comeback attempt. The Purple’Dogs did close the gap to five points on two occasions, but they were also forced to foul and sent Jordan Hemphill to the line multiple times.
Bentonville’s girls gave a valiant effort Friday night to start the second half of 7A-West play, but it wasn’t enough as Fayetteville handed the Lady Tigers a 66-52 loss.
It’s the same kind of effort Bentonville will need this week as the Lady Tigers travel to Van Buren for Tuesday’s game, then will return home to host Springdale Har-Ber.
Bentonville (11-10, 4-4) fell to fifth place in the league standings with the loss, but they want to keep pace with those teams currently in front of them. Van Buren, however, won’t be easy as the Lady Pointers knocked off the Lady Tigers 57-42 last month to open league play.
Jamilyn Kinney had 23 points through just three quarters of play for Van Buren, and Hailey Jennen added 12.